Review: To Je Fotbal (This Is Football) – a Czech derby versus Slovakia on the table
Since 1993 there is one country with which we try to compete in everything. It does not matter if it’s the economy, science, or the number of sports achievements. Who could we compare better to than our brothers, with whom we shared the flag and anthem only a few years ago? Czech Republic and Slovakia were once united but now they do not give one another anything for free. Does this also apply to a football match? Well, of course!
And that is why the game „To Je Fotbal“ by the company Sportable was born. Thanks to the full licensing granted by the Football Associations of both the Czech and Slovak Republics, the authors are allowed to use the real names of all football players. The game’s author is Peter Julis, the graphics were compiled by Jan Prell of Ad 13 Group, and the whole work came to reality a few weeks ago.
The first time you hold the box in your hands, you hesitate for a moment. Is it really the strategic board game that I ordered and not some action shooting with figures on springs? The size of the box is huge and it rivals with the giant packs full of figures from FFG. Fortunately, the height of it is not enough to accommodate them and it brings us back to reality and we start enjoying what is actually to come.
A small teaser already awaits us in a diamond-shaped window that lets us peek behind the scenes of the package and the lid. There are the miniatures that we are going to move around the pitch. Around them, there are photographs of our famous and well-known football players – Milan Baroš, Tomáš Rosický and Petr Čech. On the other side of the window, there are the equally famous Slovak players in blue; Martin Škrtel, Marek Hamšík and Vladimír Weiss. It’s time to go to fight and open a new duel Czech versus Slovakia.
The box’s weight corresponds more than accurately to its dimensions. Fortunately, there are reasons for it. In the plastic insert you will first of all find all the small and sophisticated football player miniatures; especially those six that are exposed to show off to the world thanks to the transparent lid. Each detail on the figures is executed with precision, including the number on the jersey and colour-coded base determining the player’s position in the playing field.
Speaking of the players’ figures, it is certainly interesting to mention that the authors published a poll on their site in the first half of this year. The readers themselves could then decide on the final composition of the Czech and Slovak teams; and not only the starting eleven, but also another five substitutes who round up the number of the figures to a total of 32 football players.
The game’s board is located below the transparent plastic holder which has compartments for several game pieces only. All other figures are hidden underneath in two plastic bags. The pitch is split in thirds due to its size (as in Game Formula D) and it is hidden at the bottom, together with the rules that describe everything you need on five A4 size pages.
But it does not end with the figures and the board. There are other unique elements that enhance the visual attractiveness of the game and the atmosphere of the match for you as a player. There are goals, corner flags and even advertisement banners on both sides of the stadium. To play, you will need four dices, a white ball token and a score board. The scoreboard is primarily used as a move counter but you will also record all of your scored goals on it.
Then the last things you will need are playing cards that are surprisingly small in size and represent all the activities that you can do in this game. But they are not used for standard playing; instead, they allow you to enjoy something that makes football a beautiful and unpredictable sport. There are amazing saves, long shots and passes, and also a trio of substitution cards.
The start of the game you will hardly find surprising. First, you will prepare the playing field, including goals and corner flags. Each player then becomes a manager, takes under his control one of the teams and builds the starting eleven. The remaining five players will wait for their chance on the bench. The managers will each get 29 cards that represent the use of special options during a turn. One team gets to kick off in the first half; the other will have the same chance at the start of the second half. Both managers then pick a captain and from a start they can choose more defensive or offensive starting line. You place the scoreboard beside the playing field and deploy your players across the pitch by their color bases – defenders in the back, forwards in front and midfielders in between.
The managers take turns; one turn consists of moving three players. Their options differ according to their playing position. The distance that they cover, however, is not solely determined by a roll of the dice; instead, they have clearly defined features according to which they move three cells in any direction by default. The defenders may return more quickly back to their goal (up to five cells). Along the same line, a faster move forward is reserved for the attackers. The captain (marked with white tape – base – at the beginning of the game) is the only one who has the attributes of all other players at his disposal.
The whole action of a player is finished by a pass or a shot. Only here, for the first time, the dice enters the game and determines the distance by which you are able to move the ball. However, all this will happen only if you were in possession of the round leather. During your turn, you can also try to get it, or to overcome the defender by provoking a battle. Here, the managers simply compare the results shown on the dice and also immediately move the timer forward by one minute (battles take time – a full turn in this case).
Shots and passes can be improved with the help of cards, of which you have a limited number though. Such a long pass flies in the air over the heads of all the other players, and up to three times the value thrown on the dice. All of them, without distinction, may turn once by 45 degrees at any level of their flight.
A player with a ball may not pass in the immediate vicinity of the defenders or the goalkeeper (a standalone ball in such position will be immediately captured by the defending team). The attackers must then make their way around by combining their shots and passes. When shooting to goal, the goalie may use the roll of the dice to make a save; his chance is one to six to catch the shot (only one side of the dice has the symbol of gloves). Your shot may even strike the goal posts, in which case the result will be determined by the fortune in the form of a dice.
The game continues with turns, moves of players, combinations and goals. After having played 45 moves (and a possible extension which can be requested by the attacking manager) the managers swap their positions in the kick off and continue playing. The winner is the manager who has scored more goals in the whole game.
„To Je Fotbal“ is a clever and entertaining representation of the most popular ball sport in the form of a board game. It aspires to be a well balanced combination between action and thinking type of entertainment; however, most of the time it leans more towards the second one. There is no time limit for the players’ (managers’) turn and thanks to the fact that they have to move 3 players within one turn it is quite clear that it is going to take them longer to think of their options than if they were moving only one player. Fortunately, they can think during the opponent’s turn.
Quite recently, we have had more action-based Soccero (review), which relies much more on the luck with the dices. Due to this fact it is faster and gains a few points on “To Je Fotbal”. On the other hand, this novelty coming from a Czech team brings a big change: the players’ moves are driven by a fixed set of rules. The biggest novelty and a truly important decision, is to give the individual players the attributes corresponding to their respective positions. This makes the game a much better representation of real football. And we have not mentioned yet another idea: there are larger cells on sides of the playing field that allow faster movement along the wings.
What you will also use very often is kicking the ball with spin. It is entirely up to you when you decide to turn the ball. While kicking or passing the ball, you are allowed to change its direction once, by 45 degrees; it gives you the possibility to moderately regulate the trajectory of the ball. This rule is useful not only when you try to score a goal by passing by the goalkeeper but also when you want to pass the ball to a teammate. The movement with the ball is not limited and you can keep it for more turns; there is no obligation to pass it as in the competing Soccero.
Forty-five turns may look few but since you can move three football players in each round there is always something happening on the pitch and the time passes by quickly. The players can position themselves a lot better than in other games where you control only one figure. At the same time, this novelty also brings a little bit of more advanced planning for the manager of the team.
Some rules and multiple values for kick offs you simply have to memorize. Fortunately, they are quite intuitive and it is clear that the goalkeeper is the one kicking the farthest (4x), the next one down is the long pass to a midfielder (3x ), then long shot (2x ) and the regular passes and shots without strengthening cards make the tail.
The game offers much better strategizing in terms of the players’deployment. A good deployment of players has, in this particular board game, a crucial impact on the whole match, and by a well thought substitution you can really disrupt the game’s course, or even reverse the unfavorable outcome.
In our review, we have described only the basic rules that are merely a fraction of what „To Je Fotbal“ has to offer to their owners. Advanced options are available for download on the official website of the game at http://www.tojefotbal.cz/en/; they bring into play not only outs and corner kicks where you can strike rival’s players but also fouls. A player may freely decide to commit a foul. He is then immediately penalized by getting a yellow card, handing in one of his playing cards to his opponent and, moreover, by facing a free kick by the rival’s team.
Advanced rules add more circumstances and interesting situations to the game but at the same time it all depends more on the luck with the dices. What does that mean? Well, for instance the success of the free kicks fully depends on a roll of the dice. Besides, the advanced rules do not take into account the distance from the goal. This additional manual of advanced rules is just not perfect yet but it certainly offers interesting opportunities to deepen your gaming experience. Surprisingly, the game is, from our point of view, better and more balanced without them.
There is an interesting way here to balance the forces in case you’re playing with someone significantly weaker – the stronger manager simply gets fewer playing cards. How many? Well, that cannot be further specified, you’ll have to set it up yourself depending on the managers’ levels.
The authors have very cleverly eliminated the factor of time and removed the impact of real time on the game. Instead, everything is counted in turns which you will have the same number of in each half. Thanks to this every game is limited to a certain number of moves. At the same time it means that you cannot manipulate the length of the match like you may do when playing games with clock-based moves. Each part of the game then usually equals (speaking time-wise) to the length a real football match; it might be a minor obstacle for some players.
The best and starring feature of the “To Je Fotbal” that deserves a gold star is the absolutely luxurious make. It is true that the price label is more towards the higher range of the likes but it is definitely worth it; the design is so well thought that it looks great just laid out on a table. Each figure has its own name label, finely detailed body and a different look for each role on the pitch. The game’s board is huge and everything is done perfectly. Even the back side of the score board is well utilized – you can find help on the basic characteristics of the players there.
The „To Je Fotbal“ game definitely has the potential to expand beyond the borders of our country. We’re not sure if this applies to the first edition of our „local“ players as well, but on the other hand most of them are well known worldwide anyway. At the same time, the game will make the necessary advertising of Czech football. And fortunately, it does not disappoint either when considering the quality of the game. A longer duration and greater emphasis on the thinking level cannot change the fact that this is the most sophisticated football game we had the opportunity to play. „To Je Fotbal“will show you in earnest what the real football is about and that it is not just mindless chasing after the round leather.
Review: To Je Fotbal (This Is Football) – a Czech derby versus Slovakia on the table
„To je fotbal“ is a sport game, which will catch your attention on first look with its perfect processing. Its closest to football we have seen until now, including player names on jerseys, cages, corner flags and advertising around the field. Everything is like in reality and the more you are excited to get a first chance to kick the ball. This is place, where you encounter first great mechanic, when every player position has its own abilities. Each player belongs to defense, middle or attack specified by color of their stand. And while attackers have better movement towards enemy goal, defenders are better in running back. This means, the whole game is very dynamical and you can enhance passes and shots by playing cards, which has each coach limited amount. Rules for basic game use luck in form of dice, when trying to take the ball from your rival. Its good for tension, but it brings luck into the game. Each turn corresponds to one minute of football match, which means quite a long gameplay reaching ninety minutes. And when you add seemingly unfinished extending rules, we get not-so-perfect game, unlike it looked like in the beginning. But across these little imperfections, it remains fun, tactical and tense. And this makes it an excellent choice for every fan of football.
Reader Rating0 Votes
fight between Czech and Slovak national team
abilities of players correspond to their playing position
excellent processing with names on miniature backs
cards enabling you to temporarily enhance players skills