The Making Of A Football Strategy Game : Colin Webster

Seven years ago, I wondered why there weren’t any serious football strategy board games. I’m a big fan of football management computer games and strategy board games, and I know I’m not alone in that, so I found it curious that no-one had combined the two beyond a simple ‘roll-and-move’ game mechanism. So, I did what one does in those situations and decided to make one myself.

I quickly realized why it hadn’t been done: football (or any team sport, really) is a complex, dynamic sport with multiple simultaneous moving parts, a bunch of actions that can be carried out, and a fan base that would leap on a lack of authenticity. My first attempt at designing the game ended in failure, and I was so disheartened that I more or less ditched the idea for five years. But something never stopped chipping away at the back of my consciousness. When watching a football game my mind would often conjure up how scenarios unfolding on the screen could be replicated on a board. These thoughts grew to a cacophony and, triggered by a workmate, I returned to designing the game with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

I realised that the first design suffered from a lack of playtesting, so I persuaded some friends to test the embryonic game out with me, and made endless iterations to the rules as we played. I had an uncanny knack of losing most of those games, too…

There were some criteria I wanted the game to meet from the outset: firstly, I wanted every player in the game to have a unique set of abilities, just like in real life. Managers would have to work out how to best utilise the players at their disposal. Secondly, I wanted the pitch to be large enough to allow managers to execute recognisable tactical strategies, and I had a particular desire to see managers use and exploit space on the pitch. Thirdly, I wanted the game to feel like football. I didn’t want gimmicks like ‘turn this card over and someone is sent off’, or ‘you must shoot from this sweet-spot’. There are already football board games that have these features, and they didn’t appeal to me; they are more chance-based than strategy-based, and that would take something away from the experience I wanted to create. Finally, I wanted the game to be fun! I wanted people to want to play again and again, so I whittled out some elements of realism, like misplaced passes and shots. This helped speed the game up and create more exciting moments than were present in the original prototype.

So, with those elements in mind, and with lots of playtesting tweaking the rules, the game that was to become Counter Attack began to take shape. Eventually I started up some social media accounts and began to slowly grow an audience. Followers started to ask when they could get a copy, so I began preparations for a Kickstarter campaign. Supported by my girlfriend Rachel, we launched the crowdfunding campaign with some trepidation in April 2019. We aimed to raise £7,000 - the minimum required to actually make the game - but we were thrilled to smash that in only ten days! We eventually raised £15,000 and the campaign was a terrific thrill from start to finish. The encouragement we received from backers was a truly wonderful thing.

Since then we’ve been working on the admin side of things and played the waiting game as the manufacturer set to work. We ploughed all of the Kickstarter money into the project and into building the eCommerce website. The very exciting news as I write this is that the games have finally arrived in the UK and will be with me in just three days. As soon as we have them we’ll spend a few days packaging them up and posting them out to our customers around the world. And they really are everywhere! Argentina, Thailand, Australian, South Africa, Ukraine, Iceland…Counter Attack is starting its life in all corners of the globe. The excellent Counter Attack community has even translated the rule book into Spanish and Italian, and several other languages are set to follow.

The next stage is one of great excitement – hearing what people think of the game. We’ve been fortunate to have had the game reviewed several times already, and the feedback has been incredible. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but we are confident that the game fulfills the criteria I set for it seven years ago. If you want to get a copy to find out what it’s all about, head for and place an order! You can also follow Counter Attack on Twitter by clicking here.

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