American football is also becoming more and more popular in this country. Body-hugging sport is a phenomenon: 22 muscle-packed professionals collide, enormous forces are released - and in the end the team that scored more points simply wins. The rest is tactics, strategy, cleverness, and sometimes nasty tricks. Three friends now want to bring the football fever to the home table: with the skill game MFL International - Mini Football League, which is to be financed via crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The plan: The campaign starts on September 1st and runs from then on for 24 days. The trio of authors intends to raise around 10.000 euros. 

Sebastian, Patrick and Mark with the abbreviation "MFL" dare to get dangerously close to the US giants for their game. This fuels immense expectations, especially among those who know the best sport in the world for fans. Anyone who has ever seen an American football game – preferably live, on TV, too – and has understood the game after studying the rules extensively, can understand why fans are so enthusiastic about this sport. The mixture of raw power and mass as well as tactics, strategy and skill is rarely found in this intensity in professional sports. This should now also be possible for board players. At home on the table – without breaking a sweat.

MFL International: Tip kick with eggs?

The basic requirements to play are low. You need a field, a goal, four balls and two teams. Exactly what the game package includes that the three young authors are now offering via Kickstarter for "baking". The three have calculated a sum of around 10.000 euros for this, the pledges range from 65 euros to 85 euros and 145 euros. For this you get a football kit that allows two players to compete against each other. The individual package prices may also change before the final start of the Kickstarter campaign, Patrick, Sebastian and Mark are still in the final preparations and the revision of the calculation will certainly be an issue that will keep the three football friends busy until shortly before the start of funding will. 

The setup of the skill game is done quickly: simply drop the figures onto the "lawn" from a small height, put them down and the kick-off can take place. Photo: André Volkmann

The skill game is quickly set up: simply drop the figures onto the “lawn” from a low height, stand them up and the kick-off can take place. Photo: André Volkmann

To get straight to the point. MFL International is a pure game of skill, if you don't know what to do with such concepts, you will have a hard time getting involved in this new board game. The game is played in a classic duel. 1-on-1. Face to Face. Each coach takes over the ten players on his team, then it goes to the line-up. At MFL International, the structure of the game works with recourse to a very special random effect: You let your figures crash onto the PVC turf from a height of around 25 centimeters. That shows: the plastic footballers have to put up with some heavy hits in the course of their careers. Whether and how well the material can withstand this? Hard to predict based on the prototype that we had before us. Once that is done, there should be one man and five opponents in each half of the field.

Then it's time to kick off. In the truest sense of the word. The central figure of the two players is their kicker, whose foot can be moved with a small lever. In this way they let the plastic eggs shoot across the playing field. A sure instinct is therefore required. Older board gamers will immediately remember Parker's Tipp-Kick or "Pro Action Football", the slightly more modern offshoot of the table football game from the mid-XNUMX's.

MFL International has a similar feel to the game: you shoot a ball and have four tries to hit one of your own players for a first down - alternatively you can try to score a field goal. Of course, a touchdown is better than the successful completion of a move. The possibility of the point six arises as soon as you have managed to hit two of your own figures. Then a player of the team is placed in the end zone field shown on the game board and has to - who can guess? - be hit with one shot. A little trick: knocked over figures are removed from the playing field. This reduces the chances of advancing with your four available downs (the shot attempts). It is then easy to determine who wins in the end: the player with the most points wins.

A sure instinct is required

Skill is required at MFL International. However, unlike other games of skill, it does not depend on a particularly steady hand, but on instinct and the ability to use your finger strength in a measured manner. Also helpful: a good eye. Hitting your own players within four tries sounds damn easy, but in practice it isn't. Success can only be achieved if you demonstrate good hand-eye coordination and move the small plastic lever with the right amount of force. It's not impossible, it just takes practice.

This is how it works: Each player has an oversized kicker that has a "third foot" with which the plastic egg can be shot across the field more or less precisely - based on the player's skill level. Photo: André Volkmann

This is how it works: Each player has an oversized kicker, which has a "third foot" with which the plastic egg can be shot across the field with more or less precision - measured by the player's skill. Photo: André Volkmann

MFL International can safely be placed in the "Fun Game" category. Anyone who loves US sports or is at least looking for an alternative to the elderly Tipp-Kick will be happy with the game concept. In any case, what the three young authors manage to do with their game idea is to bring emotions to the gaming table. If, after some familiarization, shots that you thought were impossible suddenly succeed, that's a reason to cheer. Real joy arises, not only with successful moves, but also when you have once again failed in your attempts. The fact that you learn the rules of "real American football" at the same time because you read the instructions from MFL International is a nice side effect for beginners: fumble, interception, turnover or two-point conversion are terms that don't remain a mystery for long .

Linked to this is probably a wish from the trio of authors: "American football is such a beautiful sport that unfortunately isn't given enough recognition in Germany," the three friends agree in unison. Why did it have to be an implementation of the complex ball game? "Anyone can play football, see table football." Sounds like a plan.

Wrong world: For once it's about hitting your own and not the opposing males. Photo: André Volkmann

Wrong world: For once it's about hitting your own and not the opposing males. Photo: André Volkmann

In view of the topic, the project is quite ambitious, because despite the ongoing trend, American football continues to be a niche sport in this country and completely underrepresented in parlor games.

And so the trio puts a lot of heart and soul into MFL International, while Sebastian, Patrick and Mark each have their own views on what makes football such an outstanding sport: Among other things, they mentioned tactics and action - and the excitement of who wins in the end ! favorite teams? The three don't need it, they care about the sport. Everyone who even comes close to the "egg" will probably be cheered on. In any case, the new authors are diplomatic when it comes to detailed questions: Is there something about MFL International that can be described as the heart of the game? Well, of course: "The big picture!", mean the three of them and by that they mean the entire game. 'Thinking big', that's what people would say overseas.

Previous knowledge not necessary

A key question for anyone interested: Do you have to know American Football to be able to play MFL International? The three agree: you don't have to. "It's not absolutely necessary to know American football," says Sebastian. “You can start our game from scratch and grab the rules and just start playing. In the second or third round you understand what it's about and maybe you just feel like watching a game in the original."

The rules have therefore been deliberately kept simple, but there are still technical terms, because the sport should ultimately be reflected as a topic. However, you don't have to ask the search engine for help or scratch your head at a loss: "In our instructions, we explain most of the technical terms you need for the game and also for the original." The three makers recommend simply going to MFL International play - the instructions of course at hand.

The aim of the game is to score more points than your opponent - this can be done particularly elegantly and efficiently via a touchdown. Photo: André Volkmann

The aim of the game is to score more points than your opponent - this can be done particularly elegantly and efficiently via a touchdown. Photo: André Volkmann

To choose the niche of games of skill with such a topic is courageous. In the opinion of the three, simply firing a ball around is not enough: “Our game combines skill and strategy! In our own games and test runs, we also had to learn that you can of course complete a round quickly.” Then the but: “If you really want to be successful, you have to plan every move meticulously beforehand and the implementation is also demanding good hand-eye coordination. The more skillful we became, the more necessary a strategy became.”

In the end, it is not necessarily the playful part of the work that makes the game of skill MFL International entertaining, but the fact that several players can get excited about the same thing. If the game demands one prerequisite, it is this. Anyone who approaches the title with a basic enthusiasm - whether for American football or for a table kick game - will hardly be disappointed: the Mini Football League promises quick, uncomplicated fun. Without long, regular studies.

It is primarily a haptic experience, almost like a sophisticated toy with a "regular base". A large part of how entertaining MFL International is depends on the players themselves. What makes this skill game closer to a board game is the level of movement. Even if you might think so at first because you have American football in mind: it's not primarily about hitting the ball, but about patience, finding a promising path across the field and positioning the kicker exactly before the shot. There is strategy in it, albeit on a completely different level than an "ordinary board game".

The field is long: in order to be able to play MFL International, you should have a table with a large tabletop. Photo: André Volkmann

The field is long: in order to be able to play MFL International, you should have a table with a large tabletop. Photo: André Volkmann

Incidentally, the idea for their game came about spontaneously, reveal Sebastian, Patrick and Mark about the creative process for MFL International - of course while watching football and there of all things during the commercial break. "During a commercial break, the sentence fell: 'How cool would it be to kick the ball now!' Shortly thereafter, the laptop with the CAD program was on the table and the first drafts were designed and immediately sent to the 3D printer.”

It shouldn't be that easy after that. At the latest with the start of the crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, the excitement increases for the three new authors, because then it is a question of whether their MFL International - Mini Football League can be realized or not. If it doesn't work, the project won't disappear into the drawer. "Even then we won't give up and if necessary we'll try to find other ways," say the game designers, who are privately connected as friends, barbecue together and play retro games. "Outside of this time, we are passionate family fathers who also pursue normal jobs." That sounds like a lot of work, which will increase with the launch of the financing phase. It's supposed to start on September 1st Kickstarter campaign.