Actual Play Calling System

Reese Playcalling Tutorial

Reese Revised 10-19-19

I started playing APBA Football in the 1960s.  At that time, the rules suggested that you roll one die for the defense to determine if the line was a D (1 or 2), a S (3 or 4), or a G (5 or 6).  I didn’t think much about it.  But, after a while you could tell that something really wasn’t good with that situation.  Say, if the offense was facing 3rd and 21, then was the defense in a G-Alignment.

The master Game came out in the early 1980s, and it, too, presented some interesting things.  In addition to the three alignments, it added a Goal line defense, and a 5 and 6 Defensive back defense.  Still, when playing solo, a RANDOM dice roll was made which could result in any of those situations popping up.  Again, in most cases the down and distance was not really considered.

Then along came high school, girls, college, a career, etc., before I would begin to look hard at the Defensive Play Calling system.  What I saw was an unrealistic system.  I tried some of the others, but I didn’t warm up to them, so I decided to make my own.  Since I only play solo, I needed a formidable foe to take me on.

I quickly saw that the two-line increase for using two Tight Ends for rushing plays, and the two-line increase for using Three Wide Receivers for passing plays, was actually a really big difference.  Rushing play going from Play Result Numbers 17 and 18 rising to 15 and 16 was tremendous.  Additionally, the passing game was experiencing the same thing.  I quickly decided that I needed to create a defense that mostly mirrors the offense.  So, if the offense went to a ground-heavy attack (2 TEs) formation, then the defense would usually counter with a Goal Line defense.  Again, if the offense went to a wide set (WRs), the defense would usually counter with either 5 or 6 DBs.  After all, it only made sense.  I left some randomness to the idea.

With this original concept in mind, I set out to create my defensive play calling system.  I came up with a few constrictions.

  1. The system could only involve ONE DICE ROLL.
  2. Because of the real game sequence of play, the system had to key off of what formation the offense was showing to begin the play.
  3. And, the system had to be geared to the down and distance.

Note: Phase 2 of the system added rules for the score.

  1. Finally, the system had to be easy to use.

My defensive chart starts off with the four downs descending from the left column.  Each section (starting with the top) has various distances pertaining to that down.  Obviously, a defense facing 1st and 10 isn’t going to be the same as one facing 3rd and 10.  So, each roll had to be checked with the chart.

The dice roll is very simple, and can be used with, or without the offensive play calling system.  The offense simply announces its formation, and the defense then rolls two dice.  Using the red die is usually the only one that you need.  (The white die is used, occasionally, for blitzes.)  So, find the down and distance in the left column, then slide over to what offensive formation is being used, next find your single red die number to determine your defense.  This system is incredibly sophisticated, and it will be hard to beat.  On certain plays, a small “z” will appear which indicates that the defense is blitzing.  That’s it.  One dice roll and you have a very sophisticated and intelligent defense which will never be in a 6 DB set when the offense is working from a 2 TE formation with third and 1 yard to go.  Try it out.  I think that you will like it.  But, what about an offensive play calling system, do you have one of those?  Of course I do, and that’s next.

My idea of playing the football game is to allow the game to play itself.  I’m kind of an observer.  I don’t want to favor one team over the other, so I like to have the play calling system handle the duties.  But, what is really great about this system is that you can use it to call the offense, or the defense, or both.  It will be hard to beat.

The offensive play calling system works in the same manner.  Again the down and distance situation is located at the far left.  A roll of a pair of dice will yield the formation (red die) and the play (white die) all in one dice roll.  Since these are often influenced by down and distance, each roll will be different.

(Note: I have RP (Running Play) listed as a result.  That could be either an Inside or an Outside Play, and that option is left up to the game player.  Many times, the back is better at Inside Plays, or Outside Plays, and the game player is expected to know what’s best.  Additionally, most teams now just use a one-back set, so there is no mystery as to who is going to carry the ball.  Since this is the case, I don’t ever allow for “keying” on a RB.)

After the play is determined, I either personally select the RB, usually I have no choice, and  I then use the Finder Column to determine who my receiver is going to be.  I include all of the receivers on the team, and I simply and I assume that that receiver is in the game since he is the target.  As I have mentioned before, I don’t pay any attention to individual ratings as they relate to routine substitutions made during the game.

If I am selecting the RB, then no dice roll is made.  If I am using the Finder Column for the Receiver, then I do roll the dice for that.  (Of course, that’s optional.)  Then, I roll the dice for the defense, and then roll for the play result.

In putting it all together:

  1. My Offensive Index was determined, as previously mention, prior to the quarter.
  2. The dice are rolled to determine my offensive formation, and play. (The dice could be rolled to determine the Receiver Finder Column, or RB column—if you use that, too.)
  3. The dice are rolled for the defensive line setting.
  4. The dice are rolled for the result.

So, in three (maybe four dice rolls), you have a very credible system for calling plays, and a very formidable foe on defense.

This final segment deals with changes that I have made since the system was first completed.  The system was significantly revised in this last version.  This is far better than the original because the original had plays such as the Draw Play and the Screen Pass being used at times when they probably shouldn’t have been.  Those have been revised, and are much more realistic.  If you have Version I or II, you will be amazed at Version III.

Finally, the system is not robotic.  There is enough randomization to keep the system from being completely predictable.  And, most importantly, IT’S EASY TO USE. I challenge you to take it for a whirl.  This system will call plays, or will defend plays, better than many of the human players that you will ever play.  Additionally, for the solo replay gamer like myself, it will yield great realistic results.


4 thoughts on “Actual Play Calling System

  1. Regarding the DEFENSE part of this – I like to use Fletch to get the alignments of D, S or G. That said, I really like your down and distance to get the set of Base, Nickel, Dime or GL. Do you think your system could be combined with Fletch? I would use your system to get the set, but then roll on Fletch for the align.

    • I don’t know anything about Fletch, so you would probably be a better judge of that than I. But, if you think that any part of my system, or any other system is of a benefit to you, use whatever you like. I typically blend ideas that others have and create my own rules all of the time. In fact, my hockey game doesn’t bare much resemblence to the original boards anymore, but it sure works for me.

      • Fletch is the system that with a dice roll, based on the defense’s points; sets the alignment to D, S or G. The better the defense, the better chance to be in a better alignment. Example: A 36 point pass defense would be in D with rolls 11-26, S with rolls 31-46 and G 51-66 (I’m referrring to Base only, not Nickel or Dime or GL). Using the same example, a 40 pt defense would be in D with rolls of 11-34, S with 35-54 and G with 55-66.

        So, I’m going to try your system for the set of Base, Nickel, Dime or GL, and then apply Fletch for the alignment.

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