SPARF is a game which places each participant in the role of a manager of a team of Australian Rules Football players under the supervision of one game master who runs the league(s). The managers are responsible for directing the training staff to improve the players' skills, submitting lineups for each game, and hiring and firing new players.
If you don't know how to play Australian Rules Football, then you should turn ahead to Appendix A for a crash course before continuing.
If you *DO* know how to play, you might want to consult Appendix B for notes on the difference between SPARF and the AFL.
Each team carries up to fourty five players on its roster. Every player has a proficiency at each of four skills: mark, scramble, defense, and kick. The proficiency for each player for each skill is represented as a number from one to one hundred (see table 1). Also, the players will age from season to season and grow more or less fatigued depending on how hard they are trained and how much they are allowed to rest. Older, more fatigued players are more prone to injury than young, rested ones.
Table 1: Skill Levels ----------------------------- 91-100 supreme 81-90 superb 71-80 great 61-70 exceptional 51-60 outstanding 41-50 terrific 31-40 very good 26-30 good 21-25 average 16-20 mediocre 11-15 poor 6-10 lousy 0-5 pathetic
During a game the players' proficiencies determine their chance of success at various actions. The exact chance is determined by a comparison of the appropriate skill(s) after penalty points and bonuses are awarded for positioning and other factors. Often the difference between one player's skill and another's determines the outcome of an event (like scrambling for a loose ball). Table two lists various activities grouped according to the skill relevant to the chance of success, plus an abstract of each skill.
Table2: Description of Skills ----------------------------- Skill Activities Mark: the ability to be the Making a mark guy who comes down with the Ball-up (3/4) ball as it drops. Catching a pass or handpass Kick: The ability to boot the Shooting on goal ball far and accurately. Making a good pass Scramble: The ability to do Getting a loose ball something quickly before Moving into position quickly someone else can stop you Ball-up(1/4) from doing it. Getting open Defense: the ability to stop Blocking a kick another player from getting Tackling a player the ball and using it to Keeping a player out of position advantage. Not letting a player get open
The training staff is the primary means for improving the skill of the players. Every coach on the training staff is able to train one group of any number of players each week. The manager decides which players will be in which group, provided that each group has a coach and that no player or coach is in more than one group. The groups will increase or decrease in fatigue depending on how hard they are told to train. Players may not change groups during the week, but there are no restrictions regrading changes of group from one week to the next. The number of coaches available to a team is dependent upon the league.
To determine the effect of training, look up the requested fatigue change and group size combination on Table 3 to get the number of skill points gained or lost by each player in the group. The manager will decide for each group how the gains or losses are distributed between the skills for each group, but every player in the group must receive his points according to the same distribution. For example, if one group of three players trains hard enough to raise their fatigue by four, each player in the group will receive seven points of skill. The manager might decide to give 3 points to mark, 3 to scramble, and one to defense. Each player in the group will have their mark, scramble, and defense skills raised the full amounts, and will increase in fatigue by four points. The only constraints are that no player may raise one skill and lower another in the same week, nor may any player raise or lower a single skill more than seven points in the same week. Also, the fatigue level will not drop below zero. If a skill level drops to or below zero, then there is a 10% (+5% per point below zero) chance that the player will become depressed and quit the team each week until the skill is raised to positive levels.
Table 3: Effectiveness of Coaching ---------------------------------- Fatigue Change # of players -4 -2 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 +1 +2 +3 +5 +7 +10 +15 2 0 +1 +2 +3 +5 +7 +10 3 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +5 +7 4 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +5 5-6 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 7-9 -5 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 10-14 -7 -5 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 15-19 -10 -7 -5 -3 -2 -1 0 20+ -15 -10 -7 -5 -3 -2 -1
For each match, each manager submits a lineup of which players will fill each of the eighteen positions. In SPARF, there are fifteen fixed area positions, plus three free moving players who follow the ball wherever it goes. The fifteen fixed positions are shown below. The three other positions are the ruckman, the rover, and the ruck-rover. The ruckman's job is to represent the team in ball-ups. The rover is usually the fastest player and works to get the ball when it is loose, and the ruck-rover is a general utility player who aids both the ruckman and rover in their work.
Click here to see a low grade picture of a ground.
If players are old, overworked, or just plain unlucky, then they may become injured. The exact chances of injury vary quite a lot denpending on how much the player happens to get involved in the play of a game, but on the average two teams playing with perfectly rested, young players will have about one injury per team per three games. In real play, it is almost certain that some of the players will be fatigued, and it is inevitable that the players will age, as it is much too costly to train a completely new batch of players every season, so actual injury rates are somewhat higher. The base chance of injury rises by about the formula 1-(1-k)^n, where k is the base chance of injury and n is 1+age/2+fatigue/4.
When a player is injured, he may be out for some number of weeks before he is able to train agin, and some more time before he can again play. While the player is unable to train, he will lose skill at the rate of -20 per week evenly distributed among the four skills. The number of weeks before the player is released from the hospital is list in the "hosp" column of the team roster. "rec" (recovery) indicates the number of weeks after the player is released before he may safely play again.
Class Hosp Recv 0 0 0-1 1 0 0-2 2 0-1 1-3 3 0-2 0-4 4 0-2 0-4 5 1-3 1-5 6 1-3 1-7 7 2-4 0-8 8 1-5 1-9 9 1-5 0-10 10 2-6 0-10 11 1-8 0-10 12 3-9 0-12
With the new post-train rosters introduced this year, Injury stats will be slightly different than what you are used to. The new way thing work is
In the old system (where the recv decrement was reported in anticipation of the game), a 0/1 player would show up as 0/0 in the post-train roster but not be ready to play, which was confusing. Now the player will show up as 0/1 until after the game (so you can build lineups directly from the post train roster without worrying about which guys are almost-but-not- quite-ready).
It was easier to move the hosp --> recv and then always decrement recv than to make a way for munch to "remember" that the guy had been in the hospital and only decrement when the player had not been in the hospital (consider the problem of telling a 1/1 from a 0/1 after training).
Example: a guy gets a 2/2 injury
post-game 2/2 post-train 1/3 post-game 1/2 post-train 0/3 post-game 0/2 post-train 0/2 post-game 0/1 post-train 0/1 post-game 0/0 (ready to play next week!)
In SPARF, age is measured in number of seasons played. Aside from an increase in the chance of injury, age also slows the player in other ways. All players lose some amount of skill during the off season, but older players generally lose more. If the skill of an athlete drops below a certain point at the end of a season, then he will retire from the sport, and not return the following season. (Consult Tables 5 and 6 for exact figures)
Table 5: Off-Season Skill Loss ------------------------------ Age Skill 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8+ 100 49 59 64 63 58 50 43 32 26 90 48 58 62 61 56 48 41 31 25 80 47 56 59 58 52 46 37 29 24 70 46 53 55 54 47 42 35 27 21 60 44 48 49 47 40 34 29 25 19 50 41 42 42 40 35 31 26 22 17 40 36 36 35 33 31 28 24 17 13 30 29 28 27 24 21 19 17 14 11 25 25 24 23 21 18 16 14 11 8 20 20 20 19 18 16 13 9 6 4 15 15 15 15 14 12 10 7 4 3 10 10 10 10 10 9 7 5 3 2 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 2 1
Each skill for each player at the end of the season is crossreferenced with the players age in table 5 to find the value for the next season start for pre-season training.
Table 6: Retirement Criterion ----------------------------- Age Criterion 0-2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9+ Minimum total points summed for all skills 25 25 25 25 25 20 15 10 Minimum for a single skill 5 5 5 5 5 3 2 1 Minimum for best skill 10 9 8 7 6 5 5 5
If the player fails to meet any of the above criterion, he will retire.
In SPARF, the players are completely automated by the computer, and the manager must sit back (relaxing is optional) and watch to see whether all the hard work and training will pay off, and whether his star player will end up leaving the field on a stretcher.
Depending on how involved with the play a player gets, his fatigue level may rise from zero to four points during a match (usually zero to one for fixed position players, one to three for mobile players)
Also, competition may hone the skill of the players. Small gains in skill will result if a player meets enough equally matched opponents.
Every week, a listing of players which are available will appear with the league report. Any manager may make a bid for player, ties resulting in the player staying for bid the next week with the tie bid as a new minimum. The player will then play for the highest bidder, starting a full week after the auction (A player signed up in the week 2 bidding will be available for training and play in week 4). At any time, any player may be cut from the roster. Fired players may not be resigned by the firing team for three full weeks after being cut. Two teams may also trade players (in exchange for money, other players, or both). Again, traded players may not return to the team from which they came for three full weeks. Traded players are available for trading and play to the trading team the week of the deal, and to the receiving team the week after the deal.
The amount of money a team receives does not directly depend on whether the team wins or loses, but rather on the popularity of the team. This is a function of both how well the team has been playing, and what degree of competition is expected. At each game, the manager will collect the money from the fans/merchandizers, usually of around 25-30k sparf.
Also, there may be tv coverage during the season. Mangers who make a deal with the tv network will receive a cash bonus, but pay for it by allowing all the other players to receive a scouting report of the game (see "Information" below) Television coverage is typically sporadic.
One of the most important factors in determining what lineup to use against an opposing team is knowledge of what the strengths and weaknesses are of the opposing team. The main way to detrmine the strength of another team is to read the scouting reports which come out each game week, listing the skill bracket (but not the exact value) of all the players in the league who played that week. Each team will receive the scouting report for it's own game, plus all televised games. If you want a report on the team you are about to play, make a deal with the manager who played the team last week...
At the end of the season, you have the option to pay $50k SPARF for continued coverage under the SPARF comprehensive international medical plan. (A real deal if you consider that the 1991 average expense for hospital costs was about $95k SPARF, and only three teams used less than $50k SPARF in medical costs).
You are REQUIRED to fork over 30k SPARF per coach to retain them for the next season. To keep both coaches and medical coverage, that's a seasonal cost of 260k SPARF for a standard seven coach team. Given that the season is typcally about 14 games long, plus one week of post season play (or more, if you do well) that's only 350k SPARF for the least popular teams, leaving only about 90k for spending money, so budget with the idea of 90k/season in mind.
Munch is a file-server daemon that work via e-mail. Send him a letter with the subject "Munch: help" for a full listing of commands.
The object of a match in Australian Rules Football is to score the most points. The game is played on a field 150 metre long, with four posts on either end of the field. Six points are scored for each goal, one for each behind. A goal is when a player kicks the ball through the two center posts at the end of the field, a behind when through a center post and one of the small posts beside the center post. The game starts with a ball-up where the referee bounces the ball up between the two ruckmen, and continues with the players working to get control of the football and score until time runs out.
A player may pass the ball by punching it (a handpass) or kicking it. The players will kick the ball in order to pass it long distances to their teammates. If any player catches a pass of more than 10 meters length, then he makes a mark, meaning that he is allowed to kick the ball from where he caught it with no interference from the other players. Except when a player has made a mark, a player with the ball may be tackled by any of the opposing players. The player must try to pass the ball while being tackled or else he will be penalized for "holding the ball" (stalling).
Because of this, Australian rules football stays in motion almost constantly, stopping only when a goal is scored, the ball goes out of bounds, or when too many players get piled up in the same spot and no one can find the ball.
SPARF is a simulation of ARF to some extent, but more than that it is a game. To balance this game, some factors of ARF were changed a bit. First of all, SPARF is a lot more bloody than ARF. Some teams have seen as many as 9 players leave the field, especially if they let fatigue get too far out of control. In general, a good team will get from 0-2 injuries a week, and average 4 injuries per three games. Some teams seem to get around that many injuries EVERY week, though.
Also, the three mobiles are a lot more hogenous in SPARF than in ARF, and tend to rotate jobs from time to time. They also play a stronger role than in normal ARF games and have a more dramatic affect on play.
Finally, SPARF players are a pretty lousy shot compared to ARF players, and the scores are generally lower than in the AFL (but look a lot more like scores from the VFL of the 1940's)
This game would not have come to be without the help of television, which introduced me to Australian Rules Football. Fraser Wilson and Micheal Sargent also have proved invalueable for the insights into the game they have provided me with during the creation process. Adriana Nicholson, Van Boughner, and Trevor Pering have helped quite a bit with the proofreading of the initial rules. Also, I'd like to thank all of you have participated in this first seasons of the game, as your feedback is helping me to improve it for an exciting game. A special thanks to Steve Buffum, who started Tales of Woe, the SPARF strategy magazine.