DFL Season Alpha

Ready or not (and not that you asked for it), here comes Season Alpha of the DFL! Premiering at 11PT EST on ESPN-8 “The Ocho,” Season Alpha sees four teams vying to earn the DFL’s first championship: The Los Angeles Lunatics, New York Nukes, Detroit Rippers, and Houston Hombres. Let’s go to Ocho Studios Central for a recap of Friday night’s action!

Houston 34, New York 18 — Houston scores on every possession (and defensively, too), running the Nukes off the field.

Player of the Match: Houston’s Kidd Karenderris, keying a defensive effort with an early sack-for-touchdown that put the Hombres on the trail to victory!

Detroit 20, Los Angeles 10 — Detroit takes advantage as Los Angeles surrenders big plays.

Player of the Match: Kurt Baumgartner opens big holes up front for Detroit’s blistering backfield.

Two teams returned to the field for Sunday’s inaugural DFL championship match — the Alpha Cup!

Detroit 14, Houston 12 — Thrilling Cup final goes to overtime and is decided by a helmet-to-helmet hit penalty!

This was a tight game that was tied 12-12 after Houston’s third possession. In their final possession, Detroit was intercepted by Houston’s Ans Shawnson, setting up the Hombres for their fourth and final possession at the six yard line. With the score tied in the final possession, any score would end the game. But Detroit came up huge, with a sack by Choji Point knocking the Hombres back across midfield, and Houston’s next two plays going for no gain.

In overtime, Ans Shawnson collected his third interception of the game, again putting the Hombres in position to win with any score. On the second play from scrimmage, Houston’s Dude Lindless broke through the line and looked ready to run off a cup-clinching touchdown run, but he lowered his helmet and initiated illegal contact with a Detroit defender, incurring a two-point penalty and ending the game in sudden death victory for the Detroit Rippers!


Person of the Match: Detroit’s Matt Karolina, who anchored a fearsome interior line that came up time and time again with sacks and stuffs for negative yardage, foiling two Houston conversion attempts. The Hombres’ difficulty in short conversions may have led to their controversial 6-point attempt near the end of regulation, trying to blow open a close game in one play. That pass would fall incomplete, and the game would end up going to overtime.

And that’s it for Season Alpha of the DFL! Twelve new franchises have applied for the four open slots for Season Beta (meaning that I’ve ordered additional teams from Plaay), but will the league continue? Only time — and pending TV ratings from the Ocho — will tell. Rumor has it that the Cornhole tournament usually scheduled at 11PM EST pulled better numbers … but you never know. The DFL may return when you least expect it.

Thanks for reading!


Fury Football

My new solo sports gaming project is Plaay’s Fury Football.

(Not to be confused with Furry Football, which might involve team mascots and/or cosplay fetishists, which would also be awesome).

Fury Football is an experimental game that reimagines football as a condensed, high-action affair. It is almost as if you took the NCAA’s overtime scoring rules and built an entire game around them. The field is twenty yards long. There is no clock, and the kicking game is limited — a team has four downs to score. Each team gets four possessions. There are six players per team. If you score a touchdown, you can pick the yard line from which you convert — if you are successful, you score that many points. (And if you make a conversion, you can immediately attempt another).

The game system is about what you’d expect. There is a guessing game as the coaches call “run” or “pass,” but you don’t designate runners or receivers. Resolution is dice-based and uses the Plaay “highlight reel” approach as individual players are selected by the system for spotlight plays where their carded attributes come into play. The game plays fast and generates a narrative. There aren’t a lot of stats (and the stats you can pull out of it don’t mean a lot), but the game has a football feel and it is a pleasant way to while away a sports afternoon with some obscure ESPN bowl game playing in the background.

Since this is a fictional sport with fictional players, a fictional construct for my league seems appropriate.

My league is called the “DFL,” and it is deliberately obscure what the “D” stands for. Developmental? Disruptive? Dumb? Take your pick. I envision this as a made-for-cable sport that posts small numbers on The Ocho.

I’ve conceived a whole pack of goofy rules for the DFL:

  • The league begins with four teams: The Detroit Rippers, Houston Hombres, Los Angeles Lunatics, and New York Nukes. (These are the teams that ship with the game). While the teams have city affiliations, all games are played at The Ocho television studio, so home field advantage is illusory. With this venue, the DFL is like an eSports start-up.
  • This is a low-contact sport with an emphasis on athleticism and agility. Liberalized eligibility rules mean that even linemen are expected to have ball-handling skills. (This is reflected in the game’s player cards). Players wear light pads and half-shorts. Uniforms probably look more like lacrosse than football.
  • To intrigue fans and increase television appeal, all DFL rosters have both male and female players. (Some of the Fury Football player names can sound female, so what the hell).
  • As another sop to the fans, plays are called by the audience in the arena and at home, voting on their phones. (I’m using the game’s automated play-calling system, so this fits).
  • Player safety is a top priority of the DFL. Games are short, and the reduced size of the field limits player speed. Helmets are loaded with sensors that register illegal hits, which result in penalty points added directly to the score. (Fury Football penalties score points but their nature isn’t defined — with concern over CTE re-shaping real football this seems a good rationale).
  • Short games allow players to take the field more frequently, so the DFL uses all-tournament scheduling. Teams are grouped into brackets of four, playing single-elimination games on Friday night, and a bracket final on Sunday. These brackets continue throughout the season, winnowing down the field until only one team remains undefeated. This team is awarded the season cup.
  • Because seasons are so short, seasons aren’t linked to years. Instead, each season is identified by a Greek letter, and several seasons can occur in a single year. The first season of the DFL is Season Alpha, and the winner will receive the Alpha Cup. The first four seasons of the DFL are each seeded with four new expansion teams, meaning the league will eventually grow to sixteen teams for DFL Season Delta, if my interest holds out that long.
  • Teams are ranked at the end of each season, scoring one point for each win, and a bonus point for winning a Cup. These rankings are used to determine seeding for the next tournament, and are a way of tracking long-term franchise success across multiple seasons.

There you have it. The DFL is ready for primetime (which is 11PM EST on The Ocho)!


Alone In A Crowd

Welcome back to Distant Replay, your source for solipsistic sports! (Actually, I know it is my source for solipsism — you, I’m not so sure about). The blog has been dormant for several months but with a little time on my hands over the holiday break, Distant Replay is flaring back to life. (Emphasis on the “flare” part).

I’ve had a busy gaming year since moving back to California, with role playing and boardgames on the rebound, but I haven’t done any sports gaming of note. I did play a couple golf tournaments, as alluded to in my last significant post, but the game didn’t really fire me up and the results are lost to the mists of time. That Stanley Cup resurrection of the SDHL never happened. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

With the general lack of control I’m experiencing in my work life, I’ve had the itch for the rational and contained world of solitaire sports gaming (or solo wargaming, an even taller order), but I’ve been defeated by logistics. We are five people and two cats packed into a condo best suited for three. There’s only one place to set up a card table (anything larger is out of the question), and doing so occupies our common living room for the duration of the game. Jack and I will sometimes knock off a boardgame over a long afternoon, but most of our gaming has been at other peoples’ houses. If even a two-hour card game disrupts the whole house, devoting that same space to a solitaire game seems doubly selfish.

The answer for my solo gaming fix has been technology. I’ve played a ton of Stardew Valley, Carcassonne, Neuroshima Hex, Hearthstone, and Agricola on my iOS devices this year. But those games don’t provide the down-in-the-gears joy of manual gaming, and they certainly don’t generate blog fodder for Distant Replay or anything else.

My solution has been to virtualize my solo sports gaming with technology. I’ve dusted off Card Warden on my iPad to handle the cards and displays for my latest project. It isn’t perfect — Card Warden is kind of cranky, and with my source images being screenshots-of-screenshots, the display quality isn’t great — but when combined with an online dice-roller and my trusty laptop, I’ve dialed in a system where I can plant myself on the couch, put a football game on the TV (thanks to a new YouTube TV subscription) and run a game with minimal sprawl.

So far, so good!

So, what is the next project, I hear you cry? (Actually I don’t hear anyone cry, and if I did I’d be creeped out).

All will be revealed in my next post!

Motorhead Cup Wrap-Up

With the Motorhead Cup series in the books, it’s time for a brief wrap-up.

Jeff Gordon was the undisputed champion of the series. Carl Edwards was more consistent, overall, but he flamed out in the Chase and finished 42 points behind Gordon. That margin was closer than it looked — if not for Robby Gordon’s bizarre last-second charge at Martinsville, Jeff might have won the last race outright and put even more daylight between him and Edwards.

Elsewhere in the championship, Dale Earnhardt was impressive for finishing 6th while failing to score in the first several races; Jimmie Johnson scored three poles but somehow never won; and Kevin Harvick won two races but somehow missed the Chase. Juan Pablo Montoya was consistent and boring and I loved every moment of his season, and was sorry to see him fade at the end. Terry Labonte and Robby Gordon both had a single top five result all season — and both men won those races!

The series was a lot of fun … but also a lot of work. The races go by fast enough, but tracking results and stats for fifty drivers may have taken longer than the races themselves. Not sure if I will return to this game or not. I’d prefer a F1 variant, where there are only 22 cars to track (and I still just like F1 better than Nascar), but with the limited passing in F1 the game system would require significant revision.

The game taught me a bit about Nascar, and even inspired me to watch a couple races. I’ve moved from non-fan to casual. I liked nerding out and learning how the Nascar points system works, and I’ve gone from thinking the Chase/playoff format a gimmick to an enthusiastic supporter. It spices things up to see the championship won on the track, and it is unique to watch the end of the field as closely as the front, when drivers are being shaved from the field. It’s like watching soccer relegation at 200 MPH.

And so … Red, White, & Blue Racin’ goes on the shelf. Up next? A little break, probably, but then some History Maker Golf, and maybe (just maybe) one more SDHL Scramble Tournament, if I get caught up in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Big Kahuna Burger 500 Martinsville

Flash! Gordon Wins … And So Does Gordon!

thanks to our sponsor!

Race Week: That IS a tasty burger! Ryan Newman tries to make up for a disappointing season by seizing the pole. Tire problems consign Johnson to 35th, while the other three drivers alive for the Cup all begin near the top. Dave Blaney makes the field in 43rd and will try to pull himself out of the Motorhead Cup points cellar!

Race Events:

  • 3 Hard feelings carry over from qualifying as Stewart bumps Kenseth, but it is Stewart who loses control and falls to the rear.
  • 4 Bobby Labonte in the lead.
  • 7 Edwards steals lead coming out of first pit stop.
  • 8 Now Jeff Gordon is in front.
  • 11 Jamie McMurray the unexpected leader.
  • 15 Jeff Gordon puts Kenseth in the wall taking second, Kenseth fumes and goes laps down!
  • 17 Labonte reclaims lead dashing from pits.
  • 18 Gordon takes the lead. Entering the final third of the race, this looks like his championship to lose. He’s in first place and 28 spots clear of Jimmie Johnson, his closest challenger.
  • 27 In the strangest sight of the season, it is ROBBY Gordon that leads the field out of the pits, with Jeff Gordon slipping back to second!
  • 28 Robby wins while fifteen cars wreck at the back of the field … Jeff Gordon wins the Cup!

What an utterly bizarre finish! The race itself was largely without drama — after Jeff Gordon punted Matt Kenseth aside, he was basically running victory laps. It seemed like Jeff was going to cruise to a bookend victory (having won the opening Daytona 500) as well as the Motorhead Cup and the points championship … and then out of nowhere, Robby Gordon (who didn’t even start half the races this season) wins a drag race out of the pits, half the field crashes, and there are TWO Gordon’s on the podium! Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

Biggest Charge: Skinner, 36th to 2nd

Biggest Fall: Rudd, 10th to 24th