The making of a football strategy game
By Colin Webster
Eight 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 realised 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. And I had a name for it now, too: Counter Attack.
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 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 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. I launched the crowdfunding campaign with some trepidation in April 2019, with an aim to raise £7,000 - the minimum required to actually make the game - but I was thrilled to smash that in only ten days! I eventually raised £15,000 and the campaign was a terrific thrill from start to finish. The encouragement I received from backers was a truly wonderful thing.
Since then the game’s design was finished and the first production line was completed. Stock arrived in December 2019 and had been snapped up by the middle of the next year. Over 6000 copies of Counter Attack have now been sold, to people all over the world. The excellent Counter Attack community has even translated the rule book into nine languages.
I’m also delighted that the game has received a bunch of very positive reviews. There are fewer things sweeter than seeing something you have created loved by others.
As we move towards 2022, and hopefully out of the worst of covid restrictions, the next plan is to run Counter Attack tournaments. Anyone up for a World Cup?
Visit the website
Find out more about how to play Counter Attack
Choose your Counter Attack clothing