One of the greatest challenges for board game designers seems to be transferring the drama, the passion and the intensity of sports onto the table. I think it’s fair to say not many outside of Blood Bowl have cracked it yet, so recently when I sat at a table next to Matt from Premium Worlds at a board game night I saw what looked like the English football equivalent of Blood Bowl. The game was Super 11, a neat looking 11 vs 11 (proper) football game! I had to give it a go.
So how does it work? What’s the rules? It’s pretty simple really, once you and a friend have picked which colour you’ll each be, both teams line up against each other (in any formation, the only rule is no more than 4 players can be in one row) with the team kicking off going first. Players take turns rolling a d6 and then performing as many actions as they roll. If they manage to roll a Super11 (read a 6) then you get one free space of movement with any of your players and a reroll.
Actions in the game involve, moving a player one space (with or without the ball), passing the ball, one space for a short pass, or one action for a long pass, shoot or tackling. Long passes need to be in a straight line that has no opponents to block, tackles need two actions that and an unblocked space behind the player with the ball to get through and shots need the amount of spaces to get into the goal.
There’s also game changing Super 11 squares on the board. If you get a player with the ball on one of those squares in your opponent’s half you are able to play one of your Power Play attacking cards! There’s a variety of cards you can play and they can really help your side out if used wisely. You’re not defenceless though! The defending player gets to draw a defence card to combat the new threat. In an interesting choice, while you have a hand of attack cards to choose from the defender must rely on top decking. This is quite an important addition to the game because without it I feel you’d have a continual back and forth deadlock which would get stale incredibly quickly.
Shooting is somewhat less suave, if you’re able to get the ball in the back of the net you and the other player have a dice off with the tie going to the attacker. It’s a functional way to keep things going and adds a bit of luck to the whole affair (which is fairly reminiscent of the sport). It’s really in the too and fro up and down the pitch where the game really excels, having to take risks to make any strong progress in the game. It’s good fun.
So, that’s the hows, what about the whys? Why should you play this game? Well, it’s ruddy good that’s why. I’ll be honest, between saying ‘Yeah I’d love to review this!’ and ‘Oooo let’s play Super 11’ I had a bit of.’oh no….what if this is a terrible game?!’. Then I read the rulebook and got a bit more disenchanted with playing. Then my housemate and I played and then we played some more, and then some more. The game is fun, it’s light and when you’re one-nil down there’s a rising and contagious determination to keep on playing, to keep on going and that, just one more time feeling is difficult to design.
I feel like where this game will shine is with children playing, now I’ve not tested this, due to not having children around to play with but if my time as a child playing Subbuteo is anything to go by, I would have picked this over player flicking every time. The game is simple to understand and will be a good way to introduce them into the world of tabletop games. It also, with any luck would help them start to grasp strategic decisions in an easy and understandable way.
The game isn’t perfect, in a bid to ensure no packaging is wasted (an admirable goal) Premium World have made the packaging into stands which sit alongside the gameboard and act as card holders. It’s genuinely a neat idea and arguably quite subjective but it’s just a bit much, you know? I just kept them to one side out the way while I played, for ultimate access to the game board but your mileage may vary.
For adults the football and the players may seem a bit…drab, uninspired, a bit 90s but I feel that’s a trade off for durability. This game would survive against the most bashful of children and so while I can’t joyously express my love for the aesthetic side of the game I can completely see the reasoning behind the choice.
I don’t believe Super 11 is going to set the tabletop world alight, but I had a really good time with it and more importantly I think children will really have a great time of it. In describing board games nowadays it’s much easier to reference another, similar game to get across it’s mechanics, it’s style or it’s fun. In that vein I would say Super 11 is a streamlined and introductory Blood Bowl, which is the biggest compliment I could give it. It’s neat use of real life formations, it’s quick gameplay and random action cards turn the beautiful game into not so beautiful but an entertaining and joyful tabletop experience.