1st and Goal

From: R&R Games
Reviewed by:  Barry Lewis

1st and Goal is a football board… Wait! Wait! Don’t click to another review!  I know that sports board games do not tend to get much love, but 1st and Goal is fun and deserves a chance.  The game uses both cards and dice for the game mechanics and they do work well together.  So just take a closer look at 1st and Goal before you click over to that deck-builder review.

The game board itself will not “wow” you.  Although what the board itself does is one of those little touches that we gamers generally like.  The board’s football field has a thin metal strip in it that allows the magnetic football and magnetic 10-yard marker to stay in place on the field so you never have to worry about bumping the board and losing track of where the ball is on the field.  My only issue with the board is minor, but it’s with the way the scores are tracked.  Both players have 2 number tracks.  One track has 1 thru 9 and the other track has 10-90 in tens.  So if you’ve scored 14 points you would place a clear disc on the 4 and another on the 10.  It does nothing to take away from the enjoyment of the game, but maybe they could have found a less “clunky” way of keeping score.  The play calling cards are on sturdy, glossy card stock and are very easy to read and understand.  The dice tell you the outcome of the play called and how many yards are gained or loss.  The dice are a little bigger than normal and easy to read, but here’s the potential deal breaker with the dice.  You have to sticker the dice with the numbers.  It’s not a big deal, but for some gamers it’s a turn off, I know.

To start the game, the two players will flip a coin and the winner decides whether to be on offense first or defer to the second half.  Once this is done, the offensive player will take the offensive deck and the defensive player will take the defensive deck.  Each player will draw 8 cards for their starting hand.  Every time a card is played, the players may draw another from the top of their decks.  The offensive deck has two types of plays: run plays and pass plays.  The pass play cards come in three different styles: short, medium and long/bomb.  The defensive cards have two types as well.  They are running defense cards and pass coverage cards.  The play starts with both players choosing a play card from their hand and laying it down face up for both to see.  You would then compare the cards.  Running cards work better against pass coverage cards and pass play cards work better against run stopping cards.  The cards work in conjunction with the dice, but let’s quickly look at the cards first.  Both the offensive and defensive cards have the play types listed on each card.  You would compare the two cards to see what colored dice the offense would roll for yardage.  The cards also play a part in how long the game goes.  On each offensive running play card is a flame symbol in the top of both corners.  Every time you use a running play with that symbol on it, you must “burn” or discard the top card of the offensive play deck.  So just like in real football the more you run, the faster the game goes.  When the offensive deck first runs out it is halftime, when it runs out again it’s the end of the game.  While the cards are fairly simple, the dice are a little more complicated, but not much.

There are four types of dice; the play die, the referee die, the penalty die and the yardage dice.  The play die is rolled for every play and each side is different.  The play die has an X, a T, a penalty flag, a lightning bolt, a “Hail” and a “Mary”.  If the offense rolls an X it means the play is broken up no matter what.  The “T” means potential turnover.  If you rolled a “T” you would then roll the referee die and if it comes up a “T” then the ball is turned over to the defense.  If no “T” is rolled then there’s no turnover.  If the penalty flag comes up on the play die then there’s a potential penalty on the offense or defense.  You’d then roll the referee die and if the offense side comes up then it’s a penalty on the offense and if the defense side comes up it’s a penalty on the defense.  If neither side comes up then there’s no penalty.  If a penalty is confirmed then the offensive player rolls the penalty die and adds or subtracts the yardage shown on the die.  The lightning bolt means “Breakaway!”  When the lightning bolt is rolled the offense adds the yardage dice together then rolls the play die and yardage dice again.  If the lightning bolt comes up again add the yardage and roll again.  The offensive player continues rolling until anything else but the lightning bolt appears.  I tend to play with the optional rule that if you roll 3 straight “breakaways” then it’s an automatic touchdown.   If a “Hail” or “Mary” is rolled they have no effect on the play except during the last play of the half or game.

The penalty die is rolled on occasion in response to certain results of the play die.  The referee die has a “T”, an X, a “Hail” and a “Mary” like the play die, but has an offense side and defense side for designating penalties.  To help identify the play die and the referee die from one another I used a permanent black marker to draw stripes on the referee die to make it resemble the black and white striped shirt referees wear.

There are 7 yardage dice.  The red, ivory and brown dice are for running plays, while the yellow, blue and green dice are for passing plays.  The seventh die is black and is rolled by the defensive player on most plays and will, usually, subtract yardage from the offensive player’s roll.

Here’s a quick example of play:

Its third down with 9 yards to go for a first down and the offense chooses to run the ball; defense picks a short passing play.  The Defense guesses wrong.  After comparing the two play cards, the offense gets to roll all three running dice along with the play die, while the defense gets to roll his black die.  The offense rolls a “hail” on the play die which has no effect on the play and a 2, 4 and 5 on the yardage dice.  Defense rolls a -1. So add the offensive dice together (2+4+5=11) and subtract the defensive die (-1) to get 10.  The offense gains 10 yards and gets the first down!

R&R put a lot of thought into this game.  What’s in a real football game is in the board game minus the ACL tears, concussions and massive contracts.  Safeties, punts, field goals, Hail Mary passes, extra points; if you can name it, it’s probably in the game.  R&R even have expansion packs for the game with different teams.  There are 6 packs or “divisions” with 4 teams in each division.  Each team has its own strengths and weaknesses so you can pick a team that suits your playing style.  In the end, I’ve put away my other football games, Strat-o-Matic Football and Pizza Box Football, for 1st and Goal because of the relative ease of play and it’s more visually appealing than the 2 other mentioned games.

So if you’re still in doubt about the game, I always like to point out that I have a friend who loves football, but HATES sports games yet will sit down and play this with me every time I bring it to a game event.  Broaden your horizons and try this game at least once.

Product Rating: 12

Product Summary

1st and Goal

From: R&R Games

Type of Game:  Board Game, Sports

Game Design:  Stephen Glenn

Artists:   Scott Fleenor , Matthan Heiselt

Graphic Design:   Jennifer Vargas

Retail Price: $29.95 (US)

Number of Players:  2-4 players

Player Ages:  13 and up

Play time:  60 minutes

Website:   www.rnrgames.com