Superclub, oh my giddy aunt, Superclub where have you been? Before I start, I have to tell you that I was sent Superclub to review, that will not affect what I say about the game and it will certainly not make me say good things if it’s not good.
Superclub is not good, Superclub is fantastic. If you have ever played Football Manager on the PC and not had that feeling that this matters then Superclub is a game you need.
Before I tell you about the games of Superclub we’ve played and the nail-biting finishes in most of them let me talk about the mechanics.
Superclub Review: What’s in the Box?
In the core box you will be able to play with up to 4 managers using the four manager folders, also in the box you will find two boards, the first and larger board is the main game board. It’s double-sided, one green and the other blue.
It is not mentioned in the rule book the reason there is a blue side, it is identical to the green side so I can only assume that some people have a problem seeing green and the blue side is to aid them.
The smaller board is also double-sided but is used for the Draft on one side and the second side, The World of Football side, is used during play and will be where players, staff and Superclub cards are kept. This is also where discarded players are placed.
As well as the four manager folders, Red, Blue, Purple and Yellow there are four matching player boards called Club Pads which are where you will find your Training ground, your scouting level and your Stadium. There are matching coloured squad tokens and wooden points markers.
There are colour-matched dice and it’s all held together in a great insert that is sturdy and seems to have plenty of room for the inevitable expansion purchases.
There are a total of 237 player cards, 20 Key staff cards, 37 Game changers, 18 Supercup cards and there are 24 investment cards, 6 per club.
So, if you want to sleeve the base game of Superclub you will need plenty of 42mm x 66mm sleeves. You do need to regularly stack the cards and the cards need to fit into the Manager Folder, sleeving the card is not necessarily a great choice. The issue here is that the cards are then not protected.
There are also a number of Captain boosts that I will explain later in this Superclub review.
Lastly, there is a wedge of money, which I was reliably informed, is not accepted in my local Wetherspoons.
Setting up is multi-step but difficult to get wrong. First place the large game board in the centre of the play area.
Above this place the smaller board with the draft side up. Place the money in its separated denominations on the board, give each player a manager folder and matching Club board and both colour-matched dice.
Place the Game Changers and Developed players in their respective spots on the board.
Phase one of the pregame now begins, there is a little more setup to do but right now, it’s time for the draft.
The Draft is simply one of the best things in Superclub and absolutely the perfect start to every game.
For the draft, you shuffle the player cards and place them near the draft board. Then turn over cards and add them to the 16 allocated spaces on the draft board.
Roll 1 dice each, the highest player is the first to choose for draft one.
Starting with player one each manager chooses one player to add to their Superclub squad until there are no more cards left.
You then repeat the process for each manager switching the first player each time until all managers have chosen first. This way you should all now have a squad of 16 players.
The reason the draft is so good is you get a real sense of how much drama you will go through when you play Superclub.
Should you take a 1-star defender with the potential to develop to 4 stars or take the 3 stars now?
When you look at the draft and you’re not choosing a player first it feels like there is always that perfect midfielder with matching chemistry for your lineup that the other players are considering, you sit there willing them to pass and take something else.
The excitement and anxiousness you feel during the draft is more real than any I felt in the 1000+ hours I have put into playing Football Manager on the PC.
There is only 1 player who cannot be drafted and it is the 6-star Garibaldi, if he appears during the draft you just place him back into the deck to be shuffled and split later on.
Adding club packs means there will be more 6 star players so they will probably have to be returned too.
Set-up Part 2
Now you have your 16-man squad, the first thing you need to do is count the total complete stars on your team. If you were unlucky enough to not get a keeper you will be using the default 1 star keeper, Given, but that’s OK because you don’t need to pay him wages, he doesn’t care about mum jokes but you also don’t get to count his star in your starting position in the Superclub league.
Now it’s time to flip the Draft board to its alternate side, The World of Football. Here you will separate the player cards into 6 stacks and place them in the various regions, add the Key staff cards and the Superclub cards.
Superclub Review: Game Play
We are still in the set-up for a moment whilst we enter the first Off Season. It begins, as all off-seasons do with Finance.
In this first off-season, you just award your starting finance, 120 Million on the standard difficulty which is how I have played most games but you could opt for a short game and award 150 Million or play a slower game and award 90 Million.
Now the game proper begins, depending on the number of players, a maximum of 4 in the core box, you will either Sim the first match, in the case of 2 players or you will play an opposing manager.
One thing I want to mention now is that all the important things that you will need to be reminded of are printed on the Superclub game board. The off-season steps, your position and more importantly the position of your opposition in the league can be seen with just a quick glance as well as a rough guide to the number of stars their squad could have. Just next to that is the number you will need to roll in a sim match for a win loss or draw.
I will predominantly talk about the two-player game from here on out in this Superclub Review but the 4 player and 3 player game works in the same way but requires a bit more grey matter to keep a track of what the other managers are up to, mechanically however, Superclub is the same if a little slower because whilst you could play and sim games at the same time it’s so much more fun to laugh and mock, and also watch, what’s in the other manager’s folders.
We’re still very much in the Superclub gameplay phase but this deserves its own title, squad management is a huge part of Superclub and will bring you as much angst as it does joy.
Inside your manager folder, there are tabs that will hold your player, staff and game-changer cards in place.
On the left page, there are three spots for Keystaff and 16 player spots, this is your bench, on the right, there are three mandatory defender spots, three midfield and two attack.
When I first saw this I felt that I was going to be restricted in my positions but, when you understand the way a match plays it makes perfect sense and you never feel like you are being restricted.
It’s worth noting that the available formations for your team are limited to six options: 5-3-2, 3-4-3, 3-3-4, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, and 4-4-2. This is intentional, as there’s already a lot to take into account when preparing for a match and too many formations would probably complicate matters.
There are also points when you will be dealing with injuries and other issues that will keep a player out for the season, whilst I do not have any expansions presently, there are several that add new mechanics to Superclub like veterans and multi-role players which will give you even more to track and manage.
Speaking of Injuries, you might wonder how they work. Well, it’s pretty simple, if you roll a double, you will end up with an injury or a game-changer card.
Game changers could be positive or negative, you could lose a player to food poisoning or maybe you get an ice spray that heals a player who has been injured.
Injuries work in an interesting way but it isn’t explained so well in the rule book. The best way to think of it is if you are playing the first third, I will explain that later but right now this just means midfield, and you roll a double 2, count two places from the left of your midfield and that player is injured and out for the season.
If you were defending or attacking the same would apply. So an injury while you are attacking is more likely to result in a game changer than it is an injury, despite the fact it always results in an injury because dice hate me.
When a player is injured you need to remove them from the squad, flip the card over and place them on the bench and then bring on a sub.
In Superclub you cannot change formations once the match has started so you will need to replace a like-for-like player. If however you only had a defender to place in the midfield position they would be in the squad but would lose half a star. A player essentially loses half a star for each third they move.
Matches are played in thirds starting with the midfield. During the off-season, your folder will be open for everyone to see. So make sure you do not place your squad unless you want other players to work out what you are doing. I put everyone on the bench and then after the off-season I pick my lineup, for the first season at least.
Once the game begins each manager opens their folder revealing their lineup.
The first third is always midfield and winning the first third lets you attack for the second third. To win a third, players first count the stars in the respective position, in this instance, Midfield, you then roll both dice and add the results (later in the game you will also add bonuses from Key Staff and Captain bonuses) to the star number, this is your result.
It’s an excellent system, it allows you to know what you need to roll before you start and people naturally start rolling one die at a time and teasing the results.
The tension in each third is fantastic and even as you are playing the first third you start working out what you will need to win defence or attack.
The winner of the midfield battle then gets to attack and the attack and defence face off.
If they beat the defence then you are declared the winner and you take 6 points on the Superclub league table.
If you fail the defender gets to attack your defence. If they win they are considered the winner of the game and they get 6 points or if they fail you get two points each.
The fun during matches means that even in four-player games no one plays simultaneously, you want to see what is going to happen to everyone. It also gives you another look at their current team, what they have on the bench and their options moving forward. You will need a notepad to track everything unless you happen to be Rain Man.
At our game group, people paused playing a very in-depth game of Brass to come and spectate our game of Superclub. I have never put so much hope in a dice roll.
There is an expansion for Superclub that allows for 6 player games. I cannot say if that would slow the game down too much or if it would make the game even better but I can say that the 2, 3 and 4-player games do not feel like they take as long as they do.
A four-player game is typically only around 20-30 minutes longer than 2 player game so I will report back and update this review if I ever get my hands on the Superclub Top Six Expansion.
Scratch that, I will get my hands on several expansions and write a separate review on how they change the game and if they are worth buying. That would make more sense because I do intend to play and expand Superclub for some time.
At 2, 3, 4 and 5 players there are sim matches. A sim match is a game against an imaginary opponent and you simply roll two dice, check the requirements at the side of the current league you are in and you either get 6, 2 or 0 points.
I don’t like the sim matches as they are unpredictable and lucky based but I can not think of another thematic way to add more games or a better way to do it.
The Off Season
After the first season has completed you begin the first proper off-season. The steps are easy to follow as they are printed on the board.
First, take a look at the position you finished. In my box, there were captain boosts numbered +3,+ 4, +5 and +6 so these are awarded money in reverse order, the leader taking the +3 Captain boost and 100 Million second place gets 90 Million and the +4, and so on.
It’s a great way to offer a little help to those falling behind and works to add another layer of potential change in your lineup that the other managers cannot possibly know about until game day.
Now you take even more money. Take money equal to your stadium level and league, again, printed on your Club pad or, later in the game, on the upgraded stadium card.
Next, check your squad marker and pay 1 million for each point which is basically 1 million per complete star in your squad.
You can attempt to develop players and again, this is another area of the game that relies on luck so it could be better but I cannot think of a better solution to randomise success.
Depending on your training ground level you can add stars to your players who are able to be developed.
Players have complete stars on their player card, however, there are some players with hollow stars, these players can be trained with a dice roll.
It’s not complicated but I will explain how it works. Initially, you can only add one star to one player at a time. So, if you have a one-star player with the potential to become a 3-star player you roll a die, get more than 2 and you can add a star. Next time you would need to roll more than 3 to add the third star.
As you upgrade your training ground you will be able to add more stars at once to more players culminating with being able to award a star to any player and roll to add a sixth star if the player can be developed that far.
It’s a brilliant system I just wish there was a better way to implement it than rolling a die. In some games, it feels like only one person is able to develop players and that player is not me because did I mention, the dice hate me.
The 3rd phase of the off-season is Scouting. During the scouting phase, you can draw a number of cards printed on your club pad and buy a player based on their scouting fee.
This is always lower than their value so you should always buy a player even if you intend to sell them immediately or use them as cash as you will always make money.
It’s an oversight in my opinion but as everyone has the ability to do the same it doesn’t upset the game balance.
You will now be able to upgrade your club by taking two actions. You can hire a Key Staff member by drawing two Key Staff cards from the World of Football and buying one that offers you the best outcomes or putting both back on the bottom of the deck or you can choose to upgrade your club.
You can only progress one level per off-season so upgrading your training ground and Arena could be an option if you had the money or you could hire a key staff member and upgrade one area of your club.
Upgrading is vital to success as you cannot develop a team or earn a lot of money without increasing the abilities on your Club pad.
The last phase of the Superclub Off Season is deadline day. This is where you draw a card and begin bidding on players. You repeat this process once for each manager plus one.
So in a three-player game, there will be four bidding wars and it’s another incredibly fun and tense experience.
You need to balance how much you have, vs what you can buy now vs what could potentially come up next.
You might skip the 3-star player with development to 5 hoping for something better and only see 1-star players appear after that or you might spend all your money on a 3-star player only to see Garibaldi or another very good player with perfect chemistry pass by that you cannot afford.
You can use players as cash but you must field a complete side so your options will be limited and decisions will need to be made, and often in my case, lamented upon for an hour or two after the game.
Edit* The Next Season
This is an edit to the original review and was an oversight spotted by a reader, thank you Fran Wade I appreciate the clarification.
At the start of the new season, your points start from your Squad Token.
This is an interesting point because if you miss this rule, and, according to Fran and the Locker Room Facebook group it is the most often missed rule, your position in the table could be 30 points clear of your Squad token and the game would lose its balance.
Winning the Game
When you win a season by finishing above everyone else in the table you earn a Superclub card. These cards have premade teams on them.
As you win your 3rd season you can attempt to beat a Superclub. To do this you randomly draw one of the three clubs in your possession and this is who you will play. The game works in exactly the same way as a normal match but you cannot use any captain boosts or boosts from Key Staff members.
If nobody wins a Superclub game then it will be the first player to reach 100 points in the league.
The great thing is you will often have to decide to attempt to beat the Superclub well before you are ready as a team so it’s a difficult decision as you can only challenge a Superclub team immediately after you have won a season.
It’s not perfect
Look, I have covered enough about the mechanics of the game and what you get for you to decide if you like the game and before I continue I want you to know that I really like the game, however, there are a couple of things that I think need to be looked at.
Quality control of components could be better. I was sent a game to review and even in my review copy the blue dice have printing errors.
In the manual the point markers have small icons on them for the team they belong to, my version didn’t have this so is it an oversight or an example of the differences between 1st and 2nd editions?
The Superclub rules could do with another look at to clarify some rules and there are a couple of spelling errors (you can probably find loads on this site but that is Grammarly’s fault, not mine!) but there is a large community who will answer any questions you have.
We felt that the development phase section of the rules, for example, isn’t clear enough about how you allocate stars and what the dice roll means. It’s not the end of the world and you can work most things out but there were a few times during our first few games that we were left scratching our heads.
The player packs are expensive for what you get. Now I understand licences cost money but £14.95 for a pack of 80 euro small cards 44 mm x 66 mm is too much.
Likewise, the manager packs that include a folder and a few cards are almost £30 each.
The fake money is probably the worst in any game I have ever played. Not only is it flimsy but it’s very small meaning that passing money around is a pain and it doesn’t stack well.
You will notice from the issues though that none of them are truly game related.
And that is where the biggest issue comes to light. Rolling dice to decide development is not a great system. It works so well for the matches that you would assume that it would be the same for development but it just doesn’t work to consistently allow for planning.
The problem is I do not have any idea of a better way to do it so until it’s revised it will always be a luck-based system.
Superclub is great
Those minor issues aside I have to say that Superclub is my new love. The game arrived on Thursday. We had an incredible game on Thursday evening that I will talk about shortly.
We then played the game on Friday night after football training. We took the game to my in-laws on Saturday where we played 2 four-player games back to back.
On Sunday we played a three-player game and 2 two-player games. Then it was half term and my son’s friends have been here being smelly boys and playing Superclub practically all week. I have been involved in most of the games but when there have been more of them I let them play alone.
Young boys have a tendency to shout when excited and judging by the screaming and laughing they had a great time.
On Thursday we played Superclub with our board game group. People paused their games to come over and watch the matches because we were having such a great time.
I cannot think of a better endorsement than that. Since it arrived I have played perhaps, 15 to 20 games. More than any other game in a single week.
It’s not a fast game to play either, perhaps an average of 90 minutes per game depending on player count. I have perhaps played almost 30 hours of Superclub which shows in the lack of output this week.
In fairness, it has been half term and it has been cold so I would not have worked that much this week, the kids have been inside a lot too but I think my son and his friends have been here specifically because Superclub is here.
The games are often close, coming down to a few points but I wanted to talk about a game to give you an idea of just how nailbiting the final matches can be.
My son and I were playing our very first match. He had won 3 seasons and then failed to beat the Superclub because he went too soon.
I then won the next two seasons and at that point, we were quite far up the table.
The last season was a doozie with lots of squad changes and attempts to bamboozle each other. We had both kept Challenge cards to upset the other, it was a lot of fun.
We came down to the last match between us. We had “simmed” a game, then played each other, then “simmed” another game and we were going to play each other. The thing was, I was on 99 points and he was on 98. A draw would mean I won (we decided as I was in front and had won the last season I would naturally go up first), and a win would mean I won so he had to pull out all the stops.
Once the match started he opened his folder to reveal his monster midfield with his +4 captain boost sitting nicely on his 6-star midfielder.
I had believed he was going to go heavy in defence so I played a 3-3-4 and my boost was in midfield. I had two staff adding to my midfield so I thought I would smash him before I saw his folder.
We counted up our stars and he rolled his dice. The only way I could win mid was if I rolled an 11.
I rolled a six and he started shouting “no, no, no” I whooped but wasn’t holding out much hope, and I rolled another six. It meant I got a game-changer card and won midfield.
Looking at my attack vs his defence and I thought I should have won, I had two 5-star attackers, one 4-star and a 6-star stunner in Garibaldi. So with my 20-point start, I was super confident. I rolled first and the dice hated me enough that I finished with a total of 23 points! Yes, I rolled a 3.
His defence started with 13 stars. I started singing “it’s coming home” as he rolled his dice. He could only win with an 11 or 12 roll.
You guessed it, he rolled an 11 and I wanted to cry.
There was a lot of shouting and complaining but you would think he had just won the world cup and so I prepared for the defence, a draw would be enough to win, it’s all I needed.
Yeah, the dice hate me and I lost! He was running around with his England shirt off swinging it above his head and doing that Ronaldo scoring poses thing.
I have won games since by the way, but it was so tense and so much fun that the loss didn’t really matter. I have told him that over and over but he still sings and shouts about it even though it doesn’t matter, it’s only a game.
If you have even the mildest interest in football Superclub is a must-buy. If you hate football and everything it stands for then Superclub is a must-buy because it’s an incredible management game.
We have played an awful lot of Superclub over the last week. It has stopped some of our favourites from hitting the table which rarely happens.
We have a large family gathering soon with both sides coming and I have had messages from my Father in law, Brother in law, Wife’s sister’s partner, his son, two Nephews and my Dad asking me to bring Superclub so we can play it again.
Superclub is a definite hit and I am happy to recommend it.
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