Monday, February 06, 2006

Mike's Super Bowl Party 2006

Usually, the Super Bowl is one of those sporting events where the hype far outstrips the enjoyment of watching the game, especially once the first half commercials have all run (that BK ad with the dancing condiments - very trippy!). As such, Mike hosts a party every year where we mostly game and occasionally watch the football. Two years ago, we were all playing Coloretto when Janet Jackson had her wardrobe malfunction and almost all of us missed it. Thank goodness for the internet or I'd never have seen anything. ;-)

This year, however, since we're in Portland and the closest thing we have to a pro football team is the Seahawks, things were a little bit different. About half of our group are 'Hawks fans, so watching the game was going to be the feature rather than a good excuse to get together and game. Still, the game didn't start until after 3pm...

With Pizza Box Football such a hit with our group, we decided to run a quickie single elimination tournament. I was very excited to play this game again, as I got creamed by Chuck in my first ftf game, and haven't done so well against the AI they have for solitaire on the website. We used the Backyard Brawl rules for most of the games, where each player gets six possessions starting at various parts of the field. The final used the Smashmouth rules, where each play takes one tick off of the 30 tick clock per quarter.

I should be very clear that PBF is largely luck driven. Get the right roll at the right time, and you are in good shape. The entire defense system will have a major effect about once in 30 plays, otherwise it's all about how well you roll those three black dice to determine the result of the play. This is one of the reasons I like the Full Professional game, because now you also have some control over the clock as well, whereas otherwise it's simply playing rock paper scissors. Mind you, it's an awful lot of fun for playing rock paper scissors! PBF gives great story, at least some of the time, and has been said before, it does feel like you're participating in a football game.

My first game was against Morgan, a friend of George's wife Staci. This was his first game, and had I not intercepted the ball in his third and fourth drive, it would have been close. As it was, he conceded before we played the final drives as I was up 21 -3.

Next up was 9 year old Matthew, who is a great kid but a little on the loud side. He had fun, especially the part where he was winning (which was about 2/3rds of the game), but he also liked to bring the QB Blitz in obvious run situations. One wacky thing about playing PBF in Brawl mode is that you have no reason not to go for it on 4th down unless you want to try a field goal, so you really have to get out of thinking in terms of 3 and out until you get in pretty close. I had several 4th and long situations in this game, especially in my last two drives, that saved the game for me. In the penultimate drive, I scored a touchdown that put me up by six points on Matthew, and he wasn't happy. Until he managed to score a touchdown of his own on his last drive. He's up by one at this point, and even though I start on his 25 yard line, I still know that getting a few more yards will increase my chances of winning with a field goal by quite a bit. Sadly, I gained nothing on three straight runs (all of which he QB blitzed; I'll give him this, he's committed), but I did manage to squeak the field goal in on a 10 where I needed a 9, so I got to advance. Nothing like defeating a nine year old to make you feel good about yourself.

The "conference championship", one step away from the final, was against Carey. Carey's strategy was, in most situations, to select plays randomly. Argh. As if the game weren't random enough! We had a very tight game, with the score going back and forth. Carey was ahead going into the final set of drives, but not by much, although I did need a TD to take the lead. Not wanting to screw up and get intercepted, I instead ran the ball, had a mishap, fumbled, and after a few bounces it went Carey's way. He immediately kicked on his possession, making his attempt and cementing his win. Sadly, he fell to Chris in the final. When I checked in the score was something like 34-7 around halftime, and I guess when Carey had to leave he conceded to give Chris the win in what was already looking like a walkover. Random don't work so well when you play the full game...

Three games of Brawl, and I enjoyed all of them. I have to admit, even though the game loses the aspect of clock management, it is made up for by being pretty short. I don't think any of our games took any longer than an hour, and that was unusal (mine all took around 40 minutes tops). The game does reward playing the game in a football-like manner - going for long passes when it's necessary or a luxury, running on short downs, etc - so even if it does come down to not rolling 5 or less and trying to roll 12 or higher, it doesn't feel like the game is playing you. Good fun.

We had an hour until Mel was due to show up and the game to start, so Dave showed us his prototype. I will not go into details other than to say that I liked it quite a bit, although it still has some tweaking to do. I still think a tie-in with a show on the Food Network is the way to go wrt theme... ;-)

Of course, the second the game was to start, the highschoolers wanted to learn World of Warcraft. This is a game that really requires someone to set it up ahead of time, we spent about 20 minutes just getting everyone ready to start learning the rules. Teaching was even more difficult, as I was standing in front of the beverage fridge with the television directly behind me. Hard to get focus in that situation! Also, I wasn't going to be playing, so I taught them the basics of what actions were, how combat worked, and that the whole game was about trying to complete as many quests as quickly as possible. Considering they only had a couple of questions in the two hours they played, either my teaching was effective or the game has a clean design, probably both considering the complexity. I think they got through four or five turns each before halftime, not bad considering that it took me the entire first quarter to get them set up. Sadly, that was the quarter where the Seahawks played well.

Most people had given up on the game going into the final six minutes, and some games started breaking out, but I was pretty tired by then and it was time to head home and find out exactly what constituted a "Code Black" on Grey's Anatomy. A little internet research showed that in the real world, a Code Black means violence, where in the show it meant an unexploded bazooka shell, which I think is really a Code Orange. I guess Code Black sounds much sexier. I do feel sorry for anyone who tuned in expecting an episode of ER when the show is really much more like LA Law. Sort of like when the marketers pitched American Beauty as appropriate for teens, or Striptease as a madcap comedy.

But enough about marketing scum! Thanks to Mike for again hosting what seemed like a pretty good number of partygoers for the Super Bowl, I figure one day he'll wise up and decide it's all far too much work, but for now it's a great space where we can get four different games going at once and get sterilized by the subwoofer. ;-)


Tim said...


Only real comment is - your discussion of the Code Black vs. Code Orange made me think of the movie _Resevoir Dogs_, and the argument about having to be Mr. Pink . . . and why nobody gets to be Mr. Black.

Not a great movie, but as is usually the case with Tarantino films, good dialogue.

Mike said...

I think switching the AV receiver to a 'sports' setting, might have improved the bass situation.