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PLAY ON

AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL

CHANGES FOR NEXT SEASON

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INTRODUCTION

For next season we'll be putting a few changes into Play On. There will be nothing drastic, but there are a number of things we already do in other games that have never been incorporated into Play On.

SECONDS COMPETITION

One feature already added next season, since it's already been tried and tested in several of our other games, is the "Seconds" competition. This has nothing to do with reserve team football, but instead it's about providing an incentive for the less successful teams to fight it out to the end of the season.

It pays a bonus of LPs at the end of the season in the same way as the tipping competition, for the teams that improve most in the second half of the season relative to the first. You score the number of points you collect in the second half of the season LESS the number you scored in the first half. If yours is one of the winning teams, then it isn't going to do anything for you, but if you're new to the league and inherit a team of broken down old donkeys then the Seconds competition is probably your target for the season. At present it's connected to league points (ie. games won) rather than points scored and goals kicked: we'll have to see if that's sufficient or whether we need to connect it to points difference or precentage instead.

MINOR PREMIERS

We give Losing Points to the losing teams in compensation for their suffering, and for league balance. In real life the top teams in the minor round get a second chance if they lose before the Grand Final, and they get a good chance at winning a week off during the finals as well. In Play On all you get is weaker opponents and a few extra goals through the bonus scores.

What could be more disappointing than being the best team over the season and failing to win the flag? From next season, if the Minor Premiers lose in the finals, then they get a bonus of 100 LPs for next season. The Premiers get nothing, of course, except the glory. Champions don't need any help!

STATS

We've modified the game reports to include a "Top Twenty" section each week. This will always include the top twenty goal kickers in one column and rotates between various different formats in a second column (best players in various positions, best for each of the different stats, best value for money, worst value for money highest, average contracts across all leagues, biggest differences between contracts and average prices, etc).

At present stats are only kept for the duration of a contract, so that if (when) you re-sign a player on a new contract his stats are all reset to zero, and the same applies when he signs for a different team. This will be a problem for keeping stats in Play On, since player values rise so quickly and contracts tend to be short, so we'll look at whether we can change this reasonably easily.

RUCKS

At present we have a strange inside-out rule for selecting a ruck in a forward pocket, described in the current rules as the left forward pocket, but actually the right. The rule is unncessary, since two ruckmen are quite sufficient and those can already be selected at ruck and ruck rover. If you have to displace a midfielder or utility player from the ruck rover slot, as you might expect, then that's not a problem as those players can be selected in either forward pocket anyway. A third ruckman, if you actually had one, could still be picked, but only on the interchange bench.

This change would deal with an unncessary complication and delete an unnecessary rule. The only effective changes compared to the current rules are that you can only put two ruckmen on the field, and your second ruck might have to swap places with the MID or UTL previously selected at ruck rover. And no-one has to get their heads around the selection rules being written back to front.

TIPPING

At present the tipping competition in Play On is too easy, so that the GAMBLE action is hardly a gamble at all. Most coaches gamble most of the time. The ones that don't are the ones that don't have actions to spare, which is to the coaches who have most work to do rebuilding their teams. The points scored (two for a good tip, four for a good gamble and minus three for a bad gamble) are out of step with what we do in other games with tipping competitions. So we'll adjust the penalty for a failed gamble and make it minus four (it's only minus three in Soccer Stats, where there are lots of draws, which makes games a lot harder to tip).

CONTRACTS

A good change might be to introduce a new action for coaches to use when reducing contracts. At present the process is to waive a player and make a bid to get him back, usually at around half his old contract. Which means there's one turn where the other coaches can make bids at around three quarters of his old contract, if they think the guy is worth more than the contract you've offered.

So why not have an action that did those things directly in one go? An action that would treat the player much the same as if he was poached, for one turn, except with a contract lower than his old one? The other coaches get one turn to make their bids, and if they do, then the player is released the same way as if he was poached. If they don't, then he signs the contract he's been offered and stays put.

Much simpler. Much easier to explain in the rules. The current process is a bit obscure for new coaches, and the game must look like a bit of a black art.

HITOUTS

Some opinion seems to be that the number of hitouts needed for bonus goals may be too low, so that ruckmen are more valuable than they ought to be. Are they? And if so, by how much?

Another thing to consider is that the bonus for a given stat doesn't have to be simply the number of stats divided by a fixed amount. We could award different numbers for different values (for example, in Gridstats the first bonus touchdown for rushing yards is awarded for 80 yards, and the second is awarded at 120 yards).

TACKLES

At present the scores for tackles are worth very little (one behind for each) and this contributes to the low value of backs and midfielders (etc). The proposal under consideration is change the scoring of tackles to score by REMOVING a bonus goal from the other team. That's what tackles are about, after all, turning over possession and denying scoring opportunities to the opposition. Actual goals kicked will be sacrosanct and only the bonus goals scored for stats will subject to being "saved". That leaves the question of what to do with "spare" tackles, either scoring them as goals, scoring them as behinds (as now) or leaving them unscored.

This change would mean that all the other scores would still be worth the same as now, unless you score so few that the other side has tackles to spare. The real value of the players that do all the hard work and don't kick goals should be increased a little, and the total scores in games should be marginally more realistic since a lot of the bonus goals would be struck off.

At present we score a bonus for every three tackles. It's worth looking at whether three is the right number, and also whether we want three tackles to be worth a goal, or maybe whether they should count two-for-one (ie. two bonus tackles saves a bonus goal, rather than one). That means someone needs to look at the distribution of the stats (how many players get three tackles, how many would get four or five or six, and how consistently etc).

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