[dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]portball Manager is an interesting title. The game takes place in a future where there are no other sports besides Sportball because they all either caused riots or got too boring to watch. In this future you play as a regional team manager so you control all the aspects of your team.
Sportball Manager takes the management, scouting, and recruitment of other sports management games but it adds the tactics, culture, and ticking clock mechanics of games like Total War to create a really interesting mix of sports culture and strategy gaming that looks like it will be incredibly fun to play.
As seen in the Kickstarter trailer you start Sportball Manager by choosing a from a variety of regional team to manage, each with unique starting attributes. For example one team may have extra money while another team has an extra scout they can use to find recruits. From there you create your starting lineup made up of strikers, deadeyes, pointmen, playmakers, guardians, and berserkers. Each class has a different trait they specialize in. Strikers run fast like rogues. Deadeyes shoot well like mages. Pointmen are great at passing and chaining like druids. Playmakers support the other classes like healers. Guardians are defensive players like paladins. And, finally, berserkers are insane offensive players like warriors. Each starter also has a backup for when they are hurt or tired and these backups can be a key part of the game if your starter has little health.
Players can also develop their own traits which will augment how they compete. For example, sparkplug adds +20% accuracy but not all attributes are positive. Some traits like the trait Fragile decrease -20% of health. Each player also loses stamina and health after a game so they need time to rest so they can be ready for the next game. This planning ahead and player placement leads into how important tactics are to winning games. As mentioned before each player is different from the other players and this means putting them in the correct position is vital to victory.
The way you get the recruits are just as interesting as the recruits themselves. While in most games you just have a long list of recruits to choose from the list. In Sportball Manager you must send scouts to cities to find recruits. This means there is a more strategic approach to recruiting considering you will only have a limited number of scouts and each city will have a different number of recruits with varying skills. So no more boring scrolling but instead strategic scouting and recruiting. This mechanic reminds me of scouting cities in Total War due to the limited scouts and how the stats of the city effect your decisions.
Total War also shares culture trees with Sportball Manager in that after a season is over you are allowed to add a culture to your franchise. The culture you choose will define how you play the season which means a wrong choice can lead to a serious uphill battle during the season. For instance increasing ability to recruit is great when you need new players but it can hurt how your current players feel about the team thus effecting how they play. How the players play and the win to loss ratio in a season brings me to my next point, the ticking clock mechanic. As a franchise manager the goal is to win as many games as possible and if you don’t do that you are fired. This means you are constantly worrying about winning and losing because every win and loss could mean another year to coach or a swift trip to the unemployment line. This mechanic can leads to a lot of crazy decisions to try and keep your job an extra season and could add a lot to the strategy for the game.
If you’d like to learn more about Sportball Manager be sure to head over to its Kickstarter campaign page before it ends on March 26th.