Warning! Ignore the game graphics. The box is OK, depicting playing card footballers reminiscent of an illustration from Alice in Wonderland. You must remember White Rabbit Rovers versus Queen of Hearts of Midlothian. The linesmen could never tell whether the Cheshire Cat was off-side, as it kept disappearing, and then re-appearing in front of goal. If I remember rightly, the match had to be abandoned after the Queen had the opposition beheaded, and there was no-one to kick off for the second half.
Anyway, inside the box is a small card board, depicting a football pitch. In addition, there is a miniature white football on a stand, and two sets of cards numbered one to thirteen. Do they depict my favourite footballers? No, they depict nothing at all; just a number. Of course, it could be that Amigo is hoping to jump on the collector cards band wagon, and will be issuing limited edition sets of cards numbered one to thirteen in other shades.
Now, to the game. Well, its a game of two halves (I didn't say this review was going to be original). Each player takes the pink deck, or the blue deck. From then on it is really Hol's de Giere on grass. The ball is placed in the centre circle, and players simultaneously select and reveal a card. The higher number wins possession, and the ball is advanced into the loser's half. The two cards are set aside, and the process continues. I played the `fast' version, where there is only one midfield area, two penalty areas, and two goals. In the'slower' version there are two midfield areas split by the halfway line. Once the decks have run out it is half time. Cards are then returned to the hand, and the second half proceeds for a further thirteen rounds.
The basic concept behind the game is that the thirteen cards represent eleven first team players, plus two substitutes. Players one to nine are the workhorses of the team, ten to twelve are the stars, and thirteen is the Eric Cantona. He is exceedingly temperemental. If drawn against a star he will win, but if he is up against a player of lower ability he will play badly, and lose possession.
So how does it play? OK, here goes. This is the genuine second half commentary on my first ever Tor match. My opponent was Reiner, and the half time score was one-one.
Dave's card 3; Reiner's card 11.
I kick off the second half, deciding to use a weak card. Reiner gains possession, and kicks the ball into my penalty area.
Dave's card 9; Reiner's card 1.
My defender whacks it clear convincingly, Reiner gets rid of his lowest card. Back to midfield.
Dave's card 7; Reiner's card 10.
A tussle for possession, which Reiner wins.
Dave's card 12; Reiner's card 12.
I clear Reiner's rocket shot off the line!
Dave's card 8; Reiner's card 7.
And, with a clever bit of defensive skill (guessing just one above Reiner's card), clear back to midfield.
Dave's card 10; Reiner's card 8.
Much to the crowd's surprise I enter Reiner's penalty area for only the second time in the match (my first half goal was a break-away)
Dave's card 11; Reiner's card 13.
A good shot, brilliantly saved.
Dave's card 5; Reiner's card 9.
My feeble attempt at controlling midfield fails,
Dave's card 4; Reiner's card 4.
and the ball is bouncing around in the penalty area.
Dave's card 13; Reiner's card 6.
My goalkeeper expects a savage shot, and performs a spectacular dive the wrong way, as Reiner toe pokes the ball over the line. Tor!!!!
Dave's card 2; Reiner's card 5.
My dispirited team then immediately loses possession.
Dave's card 6; Reiner's card 3.
I despairingly boot it back upfield
Dave's card 1; Reiner's card 2.
and the final whistle blows as the ball is once more in its usual place, my penalty area.
As you can see, I lost 2-1, but thoroughly enjoyed myself. Having written up the match, I now see I was totally stupid to play the thirteen card to try and save the shot, as Reiner had already used his ten to thirteen. I was therefore certain to let in the goal. What a dope, but it illustrates my card counting skills. I also realise that by holding back the thirteen it had become a liability.
Looking back at my criteria for a soccer game, I find Tor does fit three of them: fast flowing, exciting and end to end, it just isn't realistic. Tor plays so quickly that it lends itself to league or cup tournaments if several sets are available. Tor will not be `Game of the Year', but it is straightforward and fun.