28 February 2013
Subtitled ‘Chart Soccer’, it mysteriously offered the chance to organise league, cup and international competitions with “all the suspense and excitement of the full football season.” Several years ago, my eye was caught in just such a way. What was this game? How was it played? Why was it never sold in shops along with other football games? I searched the internet for information, and ultimately eBay provided me with the answers.
In its original form, Logacta was sold as a small white box containing numerous printed grids and instructions, cards and seven dice with different coloured numbers on. What I found on an eBay auction several years ago was someone selling all the original printed materials scanned in and saved as JPEG files onto a recordable CD along with a description of how each of the die were configured. In essence, this was a do-it-yourself version of Logacta but no less intriguing to my curious mind.
Five years later
I rediscovered my folder in a cardboard box, one of many that had arrived at our New Zealand home after we relocated in September 2012. I knew the time had come to try once again to learn the mysterious art of Logacta.
With a bit of application, I found that actually it was fairly easy to play, once you’d got started. It was, however, a long and arduous journey to enlightenment, so here is an overview of how to play ‘Chart Soccer’.
So how do you create scores in Logacta? Easy - by using two of seven coloured dice. Each one contains its own unique set of numbers which, when two are rolled, determine the score of every match. The numbers are weighted for certain types of team; for instance the blue die has slightly higher numbers than the red die, thereby making the former more suitable for the team with home advantage than the latter.
Unfortunately my ‘DIY’ Logacta set didn’t contain any dice, so I decided to make my own using the number sets specified. They look OK, but to be honest they were rather fiddly and time-consuming to make and if the thought of playing with card, scissors and a Pritt Stick doesn’t appeal, you might want to use another system instead.
For the first four weeks of the Super League, only the red and blue dice are used to keep things nice and simple. With that in mind, I raced ahead and recorded the scores and points totals for the first four gameweeks. It’s fair to say that some teams realistically mirrored their 1976 vintage while others didn't. After Week 4, Ipswich, Man United and Tottenham shared the lead with six points from a possible eight (two points for a win, remember) while at the bottom were Derby and West Bromwich Albion on two points.
The League Cup
For this and all the Cup competitions, you’re allowed a free choice of any teams to compete as long as you have the right amount of each type. For instance, in the opening round of the League Cup, you’re allowed 11 teams from Division One, 10 from Division Two, 6 from Division Three and 4 from Division Four along with the current holders. Luckily a handy sheet is provided that lists who was in which division and who had won what the previous season.
Having chosen my teams, I then had to make the draw for Round Three. The original Logacta kit had 32 numbered cards which could be used in the absence of the Football League’s velvet bag of wooden balls. I, however, couldn’t be bothered to print and cut out the cards on my CD, so I used Random.org to generate my random numbers electronically.
For all League Cup games, the Dice Selector works on the basis of which divisions the two competing teams are in. So for instance if Nottingham Forest (1) were playing Southend United (3), you’d know that Forest would use the brown dice and Southend would use the yellow one.
So off I went again on my dice rolling exploits, but this being a Cup competition, I had to follow the right procedure for drawn games. A replay was sometimes required and even Extra Time. For that, I had to roll the yellow dice to determine any extra decisive goals. Exciting stuff. Well, kind of.
The Form die
With League Cup Round 3 done and dusted, it was back to the Super League but now I had to roll a ‘Form’ die during every gameweek. The principle was thus; for every four-week block of matches, the team(s) that scores the most points is entitled to potentially score extra goals in the next four-week block by rolling the extra yellow ‘Form’ die. In other words, the better your form, the better your form will probably be in successive weeks.
Tottenham and QPR had scored the most points in Gameweeks 5 to 8 of my league, so they got to roll for more goals with the yellow die in weeks 9 to 12. For one of them, it was to prove decisive.
The FA Cup, The League Cup Final and Europe
Around the same time, the FA Cup Fourth Round appeared on the calendar and once again I had to pick and draw the competing teams. Fun though it is at first to re-enact every draw that arises, the novelty does start to wear off as you just want to get on with playing the matches. For all that, however, I did have the undeniable pleasure of seeing West Ham beat Colchester 3-2, therein justifying my decision to include The Hammers in every competition possible.
This was borne out when West Ham reached the semi-finals of my League Cup competition but inexplicably they were beaten 6-5 on aggregate by Wigan Athletic, then of Division Four. Outraged but willing to accept the result as it stood, Wigan then went on to beat Newcastle 2-1 in a replay of the League Cup Final after the first match was drawn 3-3.
Anyway, the 24 European games were drawn and played and through completely random misfortune, all my English clubs were eliminated at the first hurdle. And the late-70’s was supposed to be a high point for English teams in Europe...
The final push
As the season grew to a close, I wanted more and more for the whole thing to be over. In my Super League, QPR had hit top position in Week 20 and stayed there right through to the bitter end, winning the title with three weeks to spare. At the other end of the table, however, Manchester City had ‘wooden spoon’ written all over them from even earlier in the season and were easily the worst team on form as well as points.
The FA Cup was won by Southampton, 2-1 winners over Nottingham Forest. Not a bad foresight of the two teams that were to appear in the real 1979 League Cup Final. As for Europe, PSV won the European Cup Final 5-4 over Cologne after extra time, Anderlecht beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Cup-Winners’ Cup and Stuttgart beat Torpedo Moscow 4-3 in the UEFA Cup Final.
The end at last...?
I’d enjoyed the process of understanding the complex logic of Logacta, not to mention the way one observes the unfolding development of various League and Cup competitions.
The trouble is, it takes too long to complete one season, there’s too much scribbling to do on too much paper and if you’re playing it on your own, you've not even got anyone to share your experiences with during the long journey.
But hey, I can now say I've played Logacta with all the weary pride of someone completing the London Marathon. Will I be doing it all over again any time soon, though? Not unless someone can write me a computer program to automate everything, and even then I'm not so sure...