Ice Hockey has been confirmed as one of the new Pocket Sports games currently scheduled for August release. It joins Cycling and Gridiron (which will probably be called Football to please the Nth American market) as the three new games that include cards.
Believe it or not, Ice Hockey was first planned for release back in 2013, after Aussie Rules. It has been sitting patiently while other titles made their way to the front of the production line, and I can confidently say the wait has improved the game.
I've never thought or claimed to have a perfect game design system. Each new sport I release has been born from the one before it, and the ones before them. Taking mechanics from previous Pocket Sports games and mixing or tweaking them with new design elements suitable to the sport, makes each new title something exciting to release. One thing I can claim about this system is the fact, like real sport, there's always a new season and opportunity for changes or new additions.
So how does Ice Hockey compare to other games? In a nutshell, the passing system of Football and the tackling system from Aussie Rules will be apparent. The game revolves around the puck passing between player positions and peppering shots on goal.
The GOALIE controlled by your opponent has been taken from Football, but every position on the ice can shoot on goal. I did have to take some creative control on the key positions being, Defensemen, Wingers, Centre and a Star Player.
I can hear the Canadian/Americans muttering...."That ain't right! There's no Star Player, eh!" Let's suspend real life to see how the Star Player fits in and why he's more important than the Centre.
The Star Player has 3 die faces that result in a shot on goal. He is the man that lights up the lamp...hopefully.
Another key element that took some time to fit into the game were Power Plays. No Hockey game would be complete without sending a man to the box and playing short-handed. This was achieved through the tackle system, changed to the 'check' system. Throughout the game, your opponent will be rolling to smash your men up against the glass and steal the puck. It's not without risk and a minor penalty may be called, forcing a Power Play.
A second minor penalty will see something new we've not tried before....the offending team's Star Player comes off the ice until the Power Play is over or a goal is scored. A simple mechanic of taking an attacking die out of the game momentarily, suits a hockey game to a tee.
Finally, the cards. I've gone with International teams (Canada & USA pictured above) as they are generic for design. The whole 'length of game' has changed as well, allowing people to play first team to 3 or 6 goals is the winner. Messing about with 5 minute periods is now just easier to play until one team prevails.
All in all it will still be a fast, simple dice game. I hope I’ve put enough flavour in for the Nth Americans because we all they like their beer, toques and Hockey!
(Pre orders for all new games and reprints will be available at the start of July)