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Ray Dunlap

“HOFer” Ray Dunlap

Just as a reminder, site author and Hall of Famer, Ray Dunlap, will be on “This Week in APBA” radio show this evening to discuss the Super Bowl Pre-Plays that were conducted. The show begins at 8 P.M EST.



2018 APBA Convention – Football Tournament!!!

by Ray Dunlap

I know I speak for all of the authors on this site in saying that I really do hope EVERYONE makes it to Alpharetta for the June Convention.  It is hard to put into words how remarkable the experience is of spending time with people who share our hobby and our passion!

I also wanted to let everyone who is planning on coming know about our Football Tournament.  We have tried, over the past few years, to do a tournament and we have had marginal success.  And the problem is really two-fold.

First, the games just take way too much time, especially when you have a coach who is unfamiliar with the Master game rules.  In fact, we had one game last year that lasted over six hours!  and, frankly, that is unacceptable.

The other frustration is that, because of the length of these games, we have had to really limit the participation in the tournament.  We had four people two years ago and eight coaches last year.

We hope to get 16 this year, and we are making a couple of pretty significant changes to try and accommodate that goal.  First, we will NOT be playing the Master Game.  I know that many of you truly LOVE the Master Game for it’s coaching nuances and the great flexibility  and array of coaching strategies it allows.  And, I get it!  But, there are two reasons that the baseball tournament uses the Basic Game only – speed and simplicity!  And, we need to embrace the same concept with Football.

Honestly, if you are not accustomed to playing the Master Game, you will be at such a disadvantage in a head-to-head matchup with someone who is, and, frankly, that is not the spirit of what we’re trying to accomplish.  The Basic Game is simple, but still gives each coach plenty of opportunity to use strategy to out-maneuver their opponent.

I know that I have already lost Greg Wells in this narrative – he is a Football Master Game purist, and I respect that . . . . but, John Herson has charged me with the goal of getting more coaches involved in football and that’s why we’re going to use the Basic Game this year at the Convention.

The other significant change that you will see is that we will shorten the games by 50%.  You will start each game at the beginning of the third quarter with the score tied 10-10.  This should shave about an hour off the playing time and allow us to easily finish the four rounds necessary to get this tournament completed.

The “Super Bowl” will, however, be a full game and, if both coaches wish to, they can use the Master Game at that point.  But all of the elimination games prior to the Championship game will use the Basic Game format and they will be two quarters in length.

Now, you can pick any team you like so long as the player cards are compatible with the current game boards.  So, for instance, if you wished to use the 1976 Steelers, you would have to use the new, reprinted version, not the cards that have been collecting dust in your basement for forty years!

So, if you’re interested, let me know (!  And make sure you tell me which team you are going to coach,  So far we have one taker – not surprisingly – Greg “OGuard62” Barath will be there and he’ll be coaching the powerhouse 1993 Dallas Cowboys!

I really hope to see EVERYONE in Atlanta this June!!

Innovation Friday

A couple of weeks ago, Ray Dunlap and I were chatting about implementing a day where we post an innovation that was either previously posted several years back or a new one fresh off the press. Well as a “hat tip” to my friend, I would like to post Ray Dunlap’s very own “Pass Receiving Quota’s” that he published in the APBA Journal back in October 1989.

Without question, my favorite innovation of all time is my APBA Football brother’s, Mark Zarb, “Yards per Catch” innovation but before this was created I played countless games using Ray’s innovation. I loved it because it’s math-based, player controlled with a built in bonus for throwing to “C” index receivers. However, the best feature is his “Extended Length Passes” (ELP) which does a great job of separating the possession receivers from the either the 7.5 yards per catch running backs or the 20-yard plus deep threats.

Pass Receiving Quotas (Dunlap APBA Journal)



Innovation: Measurement

By Ray Dunlap

Many of you know that I used to be the head statistician for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in the 1980’s.  Well, I will never forget my first game – because I screwed up big time, and I got blasted by Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau for messing up the yardage on certain plays, in particular those right at the first down marker.  Thank goodness it was a pre-season game!

Here’s where I made my mistake – I remember James Wilder, running on a first down play, and gaining enough yards to force a measurement, which came up short by about one inch.  Well, for me, sitting in the press box, since he gained 9 yards and 35 inches, I gave him a 10 yard run.  On the subsequent play, he carried again, and was stopped at the line, causing another measurement, this time the Bucs got the first down by an inch.  So, on this “two-inch” run, I credited Wilder with 0 yards.

Seemed logical to me.

But, the NFL rules are very specific on this point, and Hirdt made me painfully aware of it.  Wilder, by falling short of a first down, even by one inch, is credited with a NINE yard run in that circumstance.  Because, ten yards would have had to result in a first down.  Consequently, his “two-inch” run should have been credited as a one yard run.

So, I have taken this concept and applied it to APBA Football.

But first, a little background on what NOT to do.  When I ran the Suncoast Football League, I implemented a “measurement” rule that was not well thought out.  The rule was this: if the result of the play ended exactly where the first down marker was, then you would roll one die – if the result was “odd” if was a first down, if the result was “even” it was one yard short.

Well, the negative feedback that I received was furious!  And, justifiably so.  It was a completely one-sided rule that only penalized the offense, and we eliminated the measurement rule immediately.

Well, recently, I added it back in . . . but, with a twist that makes it much fairer, and gives as much benefit to the offense as the defense.  Now, when the APBA Football board result either lands exactly on the first down marker or one yard short of the marker, I will apply the same single die roll to see if it is a first down or not – “odd” first down, “even” not.

So, in the James Wilder example above, the result could have been 10 yards on the APBA boards, but an “even” die roll for the measurement would have resulted in the measurement coming up “short,” and, instead of a 10 yard gain, Wilder would be credited with a “9” yard gain.  Then, if his next run resulted in a “0” yard run on the APBA boards, effectively one yard shy of the first down, you would still roll that indicator die, and, if it comes up “odd,” then he would be credited with a one yard gain and a first down.  Exactly what I saw happen in that Pre-season game.

As you can imagine, this adds an extra level of excitement to the game playing experience and can be a lot of fun, especially near the goal line.  I have had some great goal-line drama as a result.

This innovation is very easy to implement and I think is worth considering for your APBA Football gaming experience.

As always, if you have comments, good or bad, about any of the innovations I share on this forum, I would love to hear them!

Innovation: A Better Version of Fletch67?

Dunlap Modified Fletch67 System

I know that there are many Football gamers out there who use the Fletch67 system to determine defensive line settings, but something has always bothered me about it – it seems “one-sided.”  You only take into account the defensive point totals in determining the line setting.

I have taken the basic concept of Fletch67 and modified it so that it also takes into account the offensive point total.  So, in my system, you would COMPARE the defensive point total with the offensive point total before rolling the dice to get your line setting.

Let’s say that the defense has 42 points and the offense has 36.  This is a +6 for the defense.  That means that dice roll result 11-36 would result in the most favorable defensive line setting, 41-56 would be “Standard” and 61-66 would be more favorable to the offense.

I’d love to hear any feedback on this innovation, especially if you have a way that you  get line settings that might be different.

Ray Dunlap

APBA Football Thoughts . . .

Greg has offered me the opportunity to share with this community some of my thoughts on APBA Football, a game I love, and one that I have been playing for 51 years.  And I will use this forum to share observations and ideas that I think will help anyone who plays the game to gain greater enjoyment from the experience.

APBA Football is really the tale of two very different endeavors.  Because you can play the game face-to-face against another opponent, or, you can play it solo.

I really believe that the game is truly designed to be played across a table against a real competitor.  That’s when you can truly experience the complexity and strategic beauty of the game.  When I started playing, I would ONLY play face-to-face.  I had about five friends who could coach against me.  But, honestly, that’s when the game was pretty easy.  Four plays, no funky defensive sets and 30 players in each team’s envelope.

You could sit down with someone and, in about 10 minutes, teach them how to play the game and you could start rolling.  And, about two hours later, you were done.

The Master Game changed all of that.  In fact, that “new & improved” version of the game is so complex that, for novice coaches trying to navigate all of the nuances of the Master game, the experience can go on for a long time.

Witness what happened this past summer at the APBA convention.  Two coaches played a quarterfinal round game, and it took over five and a half hours for them to complete the contest!  Also, someone who routinely plays the Master Game, because they may be in a league, is at a distinct advantage over someone who does not drag out all of those formations and rules on a regular basis.  I’ll wager that Greg Wells could compete with poorer teams against coaches like myself even if I have a superior team – because I play typically one game a year with the Master boards – and that is at the Convention!  Mr. Wells has an intimate knowledge of how each formation and line-setting decision impacts the outcome of plays from scrimmage.  I honestly feel as if my head is spinning whenever I play against him because I have so much less experience playing that game.

And, honestly, that’s because I don’t have that proverbial “circle of friends” to play against like I used to.  And, even if I could convince someone to sit across the table from me to play a game, I don’t have the time or patience to teach them the Master Game version – the Basic Game is much more suitable for the novice player.

But, the reality of my APBA Football gaming experience is that, today, I primarily play the game solo.  And, many in our community do the same.

So, as I comment through this forum in the coming weeks and months, I will be talking about ways you can enhance both the face-to-face experience, especially if you’re in a league or considering starting or joining one; as well as sharing ideas I have been able to successfully integrate into the solo experience of enjoying APBA Football.

Plus, I hope that you will ask questions.  This is one of the best ways for us to connect as a community and to share concerns and great innovations at the same time.

I want to thank Greg Barath (OGuard62) for all of the time and effort he has expended putting this format together and bringing the best of the APBA Football community into this forum.  I’m excited about sharing some ideas and learning from you at the same time to enhance my own gaming experience!

Ray Dunlap

APBA Football Tournament Process

Dallas 2016 Quotas

OK, I’m just about ready to go with my tournament, and I have to tell you that whenever someone embarks on a serious replay the “prep” work that needs to be done is extensive.  I went through each NFL team, cross-referenced with the APBA Football rosters, and assigned quotas for games played, pass attempts, rushes, receptions, punt and kickoff returns as well as place kicks, punts an kick-offs.  As you can imagine, it is a tedious, but, I believe, a necessary exercise to make sure that the games will be competitive and accurate.  And, since it takes me about 90 minutes per team to get ready, I have already invested nearly 50 hours of time before I even play my first game!

I have attached a copy of the Cowboys quota sheet for skilled player quotas.  A roll of the dice will dictate who the quarterback is, how many rushing attempts each running-back can attempt as well as the number of pass attempts I can throw to each receiver as well as the number of Long Passes that can be thrown to them.  All of these quotas are based on their actual numbers as well as the team’s overall completion percentage and the player’s receiving grade.  These quotas are calculated so that, over a 16 game season, the numbers should be pretty statistically accurate.

I have a similar chart for all of the non-skills to determine who starts at each position – and, again, it is determined by a dice roll and based on actual usage, so not every player will be available for every game.  In fact, since Tom Brady of the Patriots missed four games in the 2016 season, he has a 25% chance of not being available for New England games – and that could prove critical.  But, he missed those games during his suspension and that’s why his starts will be randomly limited for my replay.

Ironically, because I play a single-elimination tournament, half of these teams will be gone after the first round, so that’s a lot of prep work for 16 teams that will only play one game!!

I play my own version of the APBA Football Game, using my own self-created boards, four plays (Run, Plunge, Short Pass an Long Pass), and I determine my play results using my match-up system.

First game?  Giants vs. Rams!!!  Can’t wait to get started!!