Words by Colin Webster
I’m a virtual football legend. I’ve won league championships in FIFA and PES, Libertadores triumphs in Football Manager, European Cups in SensiSoccer…I’ve conquered everywhere on my computer screen. The downside of all of this glory is that it’s been a solitary affair: I’ve only had the computer to defeat, and I know the score: the games are designed to favour the player. My mates also have tales of killer regens and taking Hibs (or, even more unlikely, Paris Saint Germain) to European glory, but we are never able to pit our football strategies against each other.
I’m also a big fan of strategic board games, like Stone Age and Risk, and I was surprised to find there is no football equivalent. The football board games out there are either Monopoly-like or simplistic affairs based too much on chance, quirks and the turn of a card.
I decided to combine my love of football and strategy to create a football board game of my own - one that two players (managers) can play against each other at the kitchen table. That’s how Counter Attack was born. From its earliest days, I decided Counter Attack was always going to be focused on football strategy and squad building; a game where your decisions make or break your success on the pitch. The pitch needed to be spacious so players could execute realistic tactical setups, so I settled for hundreds of small hexagons tiled across the surface. You pass, shoot and move across these hexes.
In Counter Attack, you can do pretty much anything you can do on a football pitch: dribbles, tackles, high passes, one-touch passes, shots, headers, long balls, corners, penalties, yellow cards…all of that and more. No VAR though, sorry. But your strategies will only part-determine the result of the game: your squad of players is crucial to your success too. Every football player you control in Counter Attack has a unique set of attributes that you must make the most of throughout the 90-minute game. At the start of the game you and your mate drafts a squad of 16 players before selecting your first XI and lining them up. The draft can be pivotal in helping determine how your team will line-up: a handful of strong attackers will likely lead to you getting the ball to them quickly; if your defenders are weak in the air then you’ll look to shut down crossing opportunities…and so on. All of the strategic decisions are made on the spot (or, if you’re smart, you’ll plan a few moves ahead), meaning no two games of Counter Attack are ever the same.
The game has been through hours and hours of play testing by me, by friends and by people who volunteered to test the game. The really pleasing thing is that feedback has been very strong. The reviews by Half and Half Scarves podcast, Football the Glitters Isn’t Gold and The Football Media podcast pretty much left me in tears. In a good way! The latter review likened Counter Attack to a football version of Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne, which was hugely complimentary as I love those board games!
Those reviews were a big help when it came to convincing people to participate in the crowdfunding campaign my girlfriend and I ran for Counter Attack earlier this year. We funded the game within 10 days on Kickstarter and ultimately raised 213% of our funding goal! As a result, the game is now in production in China and we expect to get our hands on it in December. That’s when the fun REALLY starts: we’ll get to hear what our 400 customers think of it!
If you’re a fan of football strategy, if you have ever uttered the phrase “high press” and known what you were talking about, and if you fancy teaching your mates a thing or two about the beautiful game, then you might find that Counter Attack is right up your street! Check it out at counterattackgame.com and place an order if it’s for you!