Total Attack Soccer

Published by Dakota Productions
Review copyright 1995 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated June 15, 1998, with House Rule added July 7, 2000

Total Attack Soccer is a board game for two players that recreates a soccer game - and does it very well. The game comes with a handsome 22" by 15" board, a separate scoring board and timing track with pegs, two penalty shot cards, two dice, 27 playing pieces, and rules in English, Spanish, French, German and Arabic(!).

The board is marked in a hex grid, with basic game starting locations marked as well as standard soccer field markings: penalty areas, midfield circle, etc. The board is roughly 22 by 17 hexes wide.

Course of Play

The basic game plays remarkably well. The game is largely skill driven, with dice provided only if you want to take chances. The offense can simply pass the ball back to a midfielder and slowly, patiently work the ball up the field without ever using the dice. Or they can try for the quick thrust, hoping a forward can break through the defense for a quick score. The choice is up to the individual players, and the game is very satisfying and engrossing.

Each turn, a player has 11 movement points (MP) to split between his pieces. (15 in the advanced game.) Each fielder can move up to 3 hexes maximum. Since a team has 10 fielders, you obviously can't move them all their full moves. Dribbling (moving the ball with the fielder) doesn't cost any extra movement points, but passing and shooting do. So the game requires careful thought in deciding which pieces to move, and where.

If the defense can get a fielder adjacent to the dribbler, each side rolls a d6 to see who gets possession of the ball. Add +1 for each player adjacent to the dribbler, and the offense adds +1 for the dribbler himself. If the defense wins the die roll, the player becomes offense and immediately takes another turn. After each player's turn, a peg is moved in the time track: 45 turns (minutes) per half.

Players more used to American football than soccer often try to bully their way through the opposing lines. It doesn't work well in this game - just as it doesn't work well in real soccer. However, once they've been shown how to pass (especially a "leading pass" - have the ball be ahead of the player at the end of their turn so they can't be tackled) and press forward a team attack, American players catch on and the game becomes very tense and exciting.

The Advanced Rules

The advanced game allows you to pick and choose from eight different rules, each of which enhance the game in very playable ways. After a couple of games, you'll want to add some of the advanced rules, which include offside, different abilities for different fielders, alternate shooting and passing rules, rain and snow effects, bad passes, fouls, headers and volley shots.

My favorite advanced rules are the differing abilities for fielders and the alternate shooting and passing rules.

In the basic game, only the goalie has different abilities from the other fielders. In the advanced version, forwards are better at running, midfielders are better at passing, and fullbacks are better at tackling. (A tackle in soccer, for those used to the term in American football, is simply an attempt to take the ball away from the dribbler.) The game includes a few extra fielders so you can vary the composition of your team.

Likewise, in the basic game, passes all succeed, no matter how distant. In the advanced game, there is a chance a long pass will go bad - roll the die, and check the table. On a bad pass, roll the die again, assigning the number 1 directly toward the opponent's goal, the number 2 the next hexside clockwise, and so on: put the ball two hexes away from the intended target hex in the direction rolled.

Shots in the basic game have a chance to be blocked by the goalie using a very simple system. In the advanced game, you use a formula based on the shot distance and goalie run plus a die roll, then check a table which gives entertaining results including "Save" and "Goal" of course, but also Punch, Kickout, Corner Kick, and Rebound off the Post.

House Rule

We definitely play the advanced rules, but we've found that midfielders get shorted compared to strikers. So we use the following Player Type and Abilities table (differences from the official rules in underlined red). I've printed out two copies as a playing aid in my personal game.

       Type          Run     Pass     Pass     Tackle
       Striker        4       6         5         1
       Midfielder     3       8         6         1
       Fullback       3       5         5         2
       Goalie         4      15/5       5        3/1

Summing Up

All in all, a well-done game that will appeal to a wide variety of gamers, especially those that like a high degree of skill mixed with some luck in their games. A 45-move half can easily be set up, played, and stored in a lunch hour, making this a popular game at work. Highly recommended!

[Old info follows - I've been told it's out of date. The company is probably out of business, alas, and I don't know how to contact them, sorry.]

Total Attack Soccer
Dakota Productions
2428 Thirty-Fifth Ave. West
Seattle, WA 98199
(800) 747-5623

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