Monday, September 21, 2015

Gridiron Solitaire #Unknown: The Championship

I did something that was quite gratifying this morning: I won my own game.

I've won it before, many times, in testing. The one thing I hadn't done, though, was win it on Veteran after playing all the games during a season.

When I started the 1967 historical league, I found that having teams and ratings based on historical stats was totally compelling. It's not anything I can do on a wider scale beyond personal use, because the NFL has to defend its trademarks, but for personal use, it's the best.

I started playing with Kansas City, which was a team that could be considered just above the midpoint of the league. And I got involved. Very involved. So involved that I played 132 games in the franchise, all in the quest to win that final game.

Last season, I had an incredible combination of circumstances. I would have clinched the home field advantage for the playoffs (very, very important, because the home field advantage in this game is real, and there are no neutral-site games in the playoffs) with a win at Detroit, and I was leading 27-17 with less than a minute left.

Detroit had the ball, and they scored with less than 30 seconds left. Then they recovered an onside kickoff with 12 seconds left. I didn't have any big play presses left, and Detroit proceeded to throw a 58-yard Hail Mary and beat me 31-27.

Brutal. And my own fault, too, because if I'd saved one Big Play press on defense, I most likely would have stopped the Hail Mary. Even though it was incredibly unlikely, my own mistake made it possible.

So I had to go on the road to San Diego, and I was leading until very late in the 4th quarter, when they scored to go up 27-24. Still, though, I had about two minutes left to go down the field and win or send the game into overtime.

Then I fumbled the kickoff return. San Diego recovered and my season was over.

I upgraded my Special Teams in the offseason. Went 11-4 in the regular season. Had to go to San Diego again, but this time, played an excellent game and won 31-24.

For the Gridiron Bowl, I was at home, because my record was better than Baltimore's. And while eight games during the season were decided by a touchdown or less, I dominated this time.

I've learned after many seasons that winning in professional football (and GS) is not just about generating opportunities for your team, but denying opportunities to the other team. You'd think one would equal the other, but that's not always the case, and it's important to understand what's more valuable at any point in the game.

Here's a really poor-quality photo of the confetti falling in the post-game celebration (yes, I marked out the team names on the scoreboard and in the end zone in consideration of NFL trademark lawyers. Nothing to see here.):

That's my Surface Pro 3, which Steam runs fine on, and GS is fully touch-compatible (with the small exception of not being able to change the team names when you start a new franchise).

It was, somewhat surprisingly, a jubilant and satisfying moment, even after playing the game so often in its many different versions.

What was also very pleasing is how well the game holds up, even after hours and hours of play. Every game still has its own dynamic. Nothing feels canned (and it shouldn't, because nothing is predetermined).

It still feels fresh.

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