Thursday, 28 February 2013

Logacta (1976)

If you happen to find yourself thumbing through some 35-year-old copies of Shoot! magazine, it’s quite possible your eye will be caught by a small advert somewhere near the back for ‘Logacta.’

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.

Having won the auction and received the CD through the post, I examined its contents. I didn’t know where to begin. So many JPEGs, all named but some more descriptively than others. There was a set of instructions, but they seemed wordy and complex. There had to be an easy way to start playing the game, but I couldn't find one and decided to print all of the files out instead.

It didn’t really work. I stared blankly at the mountain of paperwork now covering the desk in front of me. In my head, I was trying to break out of the mental connections I was making. “Paperwork = forms = administration = accounting = book-keeping = drudgery...” Maybe if I cleared all the papers away in a folder and had another look tomorrow with fresh eyes, I’d be able to make some progress...

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’.

Super League

First of all, you’re invited to create a 16-team Super League made up of teams from anywhere in the UK. Because Logacta was made back in 1976, I tried to include teams that were among the best around back then. Of the 14 English teams I chose, all but one - my team, West Ham - were playing in the First Division, the other two being Celtic and Rangers.

Having filled their names in on the Fixtures and Results (F&R) Chart and the Super League Points Recorder, I was ready to start my new league championship competition. A glance at the F&R Chart revealed that each square in the fixture grid had a number relating to each of the 30 gameweeks. I looked for all the squares numbered ‘1’ and prepared myself to fill in some scores.


The dice

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.

For Gameweeks 5 to 8, the choice of dice used for both teams was made differently. Before every game, I had to work out the difference in points between the two competing teams by looking at the Super League Points Recorder. Once that was done, I had to cross-reference a sheet called the Dice Selector to find out which colours the dice should be. Here’s an example: If Celtic had 10 points and Wolves had 5 points at the point when they played, the Dice Selector would tell you that you should roll the blue dice for Celtic and the grey dice for Wolves. As with all dice permutations, the final result should go in favour of the team with more points, but an upset is always possible as in real football.

The League Cup

On I went, rolling dice and scribbling numbers onto my sheets of paper until Gameweek 8 was completed. With Tottenham now clear at the top of the table, I noticed my Points Recorder chart telling me it was time for League Cup Round 3.

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

Weeks went by and the Form die was already helping to sort the league’s high-flyers from its whipping boys. Just past the mid-way point, Liverpool and QPR led the table with 24 points from 32 while Derby were at the other end with just five.

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.

As if that wasn't enough to satiate your interest, the three European competitions then arrived hot on their heels. In drawing up the starting lists for The European Cup, The European Cup-Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Cup, one had to observe the ranking system for all possible competing teams - 1 for the strongest countries down to 5 for the weakest. These grades would have an effect on which dice were used, but with Scottish teams ranked the same as those from Russia in the European Cup and Spanish teams in the Cup-Winners’ Cup, one could never be quite sure if all was as it should be.

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

And so it went on. Blocks of four Super League games regularly interrupted by successive rounds of either the FA Cup or the Euro competitions. My brain slowly started to melt under the strain of processing so many numbers with each passing game. The suggested tip of filling in the charts with a pencil so that mistakes could be rubbed out also proved of great value as my faltering mind started to make occasional errors in my calculations.

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...?

So that was it - except it wasn’t, according to the game’s manufacturer. Logacta implores you to play season after season, applying promotion and relegation to the Super Leagues and giving byes to previous Cup champions as you go. There were also charts that enable you to play out your own version of the European Championships or even the World Cup. I, however, had had enough.

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...


37 comments:

  1. I bought this in the early 1970's and played it for hours and hours and hours! Great fun

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    1. Great to hear from an actual customer - thanks Paul! :)

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  2. We ought to get everyone who reads this article to play a season representing a separate European nation each feeding into a the European competitions !! :-). Then repeat.

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    1. If I hadn't just spent the last three weeks playing a single season, I'd probably be up for that... :)

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    2. Microsoft Xcel must be able to assist here. I am on a long train journey tomorrow, I'll have a think about it.

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  3. Hi

    Oh ... I loved this game. I think I managed 26 seasons before adulthood reared its ugly head and I chucked the whole lot away. Why oh why did I do that. I eventually managed to buy an original set - from 76, not the CD version - from a guy in Peterborough for about £80. I have tried various incarnations since, including a mind-numbing four division European Super League. I've just re-booted again and am on Season 4.

    I did write an MS Access version that ran beautifully, but it couldn't match the joy of charts and dice.

    I did get in touch with the inventor of the game (Mike Baker) - he was on about a re-launch but eventually we lost touch.

    Happy Days! Liverpool 0 Harlow Town 2!!! You just couldn't make it up ...

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    1. Hi Simon,

      Great to hear that you've developed such a great fondness for the game. 26 seasons is very impressive!

      I guess automating the game means you instantly lose some of its charm, but it would certainly speed things up!

      Amazing that you got in touch with Mike Baker. I think it would be great to see a 2013 version of the game, although (a) the appeal in this computer age might be limited, and (b) he might struggle to mention things like the Champions League and Premier League without being sued!

      Thanks again for your message, Simon - great stuff... :)

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  4. My addiction to this was total, for about 10 years. It was a Christmas present when I was 7 or 8, sourced from the ads in Shoot!, of course. I've no idea how many seasons / leagues / international tournaments I played. Leagues from absolutely everywhere. Only ever bought one extra book, then it was squared paper and ruler and pencil. Would work out match schedules for leagues from anywhere between 10 to 22 teams. Eventually, the numbered dice were lost, but by then they had become unnecessary - would just use a regular die, so if rolling - say - brown, 1=0, 2=1, 3=2, 4=2, 5=4, 6=5. Even this was eventually replaced by the random number generator on my school calculator. I could probably sit down and write out all the dice, combinations, points intervals etc even now, with a bit of thought. Happy days!

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    1. Wow - another aficionado! Great to hear from you, unclerbh. Sounds like you passed many a happy hour playing Logacta! Being able to recall all the dice combinations from memory is very impressive, I must say!

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  5. kevin hardwick24 June 2013 19:20

    Hi, I just dug this out of my boxes in the attic . I think I bought it in the 80`s and played along with my wife rolling the dice for me think I could do with another book ormaybe put on ebay ?
    kev

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    1. I like a man who knows how to give the boring jobs to his wife, Kevin...! ;-)

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  6. I had never heard of the game but it would have been the type of game to keep me entertained for hours in the 70s and 80s. I used to have a made up team and league season instead.

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    1. Sounds like an inventive twist on the original, tackler7!

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  7. I remember this well, had a set in the 70s! Unfortunately my parents threw away a lot of my old games so I've got not trace of it now.

    Not only great memories, but your handwriting is almost identical to mine, which is spooky. I had to squint to make sure it wasn't mine ...

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    1. Ha! I can assure you the handwriting is definitely mine, Paul!

      Many thanks for getting in touch... :)

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  8. I came across my original box when moving house but found only 4 dice in the box so went to search for more information and found this site. I played this in the 70's and passed it on to my son to play. He took it to boarding school and played it there. he must have brought it home before he left to join the army. I have the yellow, red, green and grey dice and am trying to find out what the others were like. the box contains loads of blank sheets copied from the book so is still quite useable and many of the later 'seasons' and filled in pencil so we were thinking about recycling even then.

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    1. You're missing the blue and black dice.I played this game soooooo much as a kid I eventually knew the dice selector off by heart, together with the number on each dice. The blue one had 0,1,1,2,3,4 (I think) and the black one had 0,0,2,2,2,3 which I remember as being a bit odd so I swapped one of the 2's for a 1.

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    2. Thanks for sharing your memories, Jack Tarr! It was certainly a great game to play over a long period of time. I can see how it becomes quite addictive once you get your head around all the systems and procedures too.

      And thanks for helping out there, Darwinion!

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  9. I also had this in the 70's and grew bored with the English teams quickly. I invented my own leagues and had quite a pyramid for a while. I even put it on Excel as part of teaching myself various Excel functions. I also still have the dice, although one of them has a chunk out of it from where it got run over by a lawnmower when I was a kid.

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    1. Good to hear from you Steve!

      Inventing your own leagues certainly seemed to be the way most people extended the life of the game. So were you an outdoors player of Logacta, then?!? ;-)

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  10. Haha! I got my parents to get me this after I saw the same advert in the back of Shoot! magazine. I remember my dad reading the instructions and telling me it looked way too complex. But I was already playing the same stuff myself with bits of paper and dice and so this was right up my street!

    By the way... how did Div.4 Wigan win your League Cup? According to your results they lost the QF replay 2-0 to Watford!

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    1. I also played games with bits of paper in my younger days, Darwinion. I might have to write an article about that... :)

      Oh don't tell me I got something wrong after all that time playing it, Darwinion!

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  11. This was a fabulous game and I played many many seasons with it. Lost all the bits and pieces a long time ago but found out what was on each dice with a bit of research on the web and made my own using bog standard dice and some sticky labels. Theres an excellent bit of free software called "Sports League" (http://www.hispage.nl/sportsleague/index.php) that you can use to record all your results ect and it will work out your league tables for you. You can even create your own squads of players and record all their stats like appearances, goals, cards etc or not the choice is yours as the software will quite happily just record the results etc and you can print them out or save them. Bob :)

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    1. Hi Bob... Thanks for your message.

      Sounds as though you've got the bug again! Great news that you've found all the resources you need to play the game again. I'm sure many of our other respondents will find the URL you've mentioned very useful indeed! :)

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  12. Hi, I would love to give this game to my husband for his 50th birthday. He certainly was an avid fan as a child. Do you think it will be published again ever?

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    1. Hi...

      Your best bet is to visit eBay. People occasionally sell sets of Logacta there, but take note - sometimes they can be a little expensive due to their rarity, and sometimes people sell all the component parts as scanned in images sold on a CD (as mentioned in my blog article).

      My advice is to examine all Logacta auctions carefully and make sure you know what's being sold, what condition it's in and whether all the parts are included.

      Sadly I don't think the original manufacturers are likely to reissue the game any time soon, so eBay's your best bet until then! Good luck finding your husband his birthday present... :-)

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  13. My mum bought me this for my birthday 1980. I played it for hours and hours. I had 2 new books sent, so I must have gone through 24 seasons in total. I used to relegate the bottom 2 sides, then used the FA Cup template to a create a competition for 32 teams - the 2 finalists would gain promotion to next season's Super League! I tried to purchase another 2 books, but they had gone out of business.......I was heartbroken! However, once I received a Commodore 64 for Christmas, I soon forgot about Logacta, so even back then the computer age had replaced it. I found the CD by accident on eBay a few years back, and didn't hesitate to buy it, but it didn't feel the same as it did when I was 11, especially without a book to fill in

    Happy memories of when life was so much simpler
    Darren

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    1. Hi Darren... Thanks for telling us about your Logacta memories. Twenty-four seasons is very impressive, especially with promotion and relegation thrown in for good measure! It's strange to hear that the manufacturers went out of business, given the fact that so many people in this comments section (like yourself) were previously satisfied customers. At least it gave you some happy memories while it lasted... :)

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  14. I suppose the thrill of the game was throwing the dice, writing down the scores, drawing the cards for cups etc. In reality though, anybody with a strong knowledge of Excel could probably replicate the game quite easily, including using RAND() for throwing the dice

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    1. I'm sure many grown-up fans of the game have already tried to do that, Anonymous! Maybe one day there will be a properly computerised version of Logacta, complete with animated dice and automatically updating league tables!

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  15. Hi ive nearly finished my first season and im not sure if you carry for week 28 form team over to week 30. Can anyone help at all??

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  16. Brilliant article my good man. How I wish I had kept my original, and not thrown it out because of adolescence. Long winter nights me and my older brother would either play this or subbuteo. Is there any possibility of emailing a copy of the dice formula, and original sheets as i am making a version myself. Kind regards, Chris. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Chris! Always terrible to think of the things you threw away in haste when you were younger... :(

      If you email us at admin[at]thefootballattic[dot]com, we'll send you what you need... :)

      All the best - Chris O.

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  17. Played this to death for a time from age 12 to 14...always weighted it in the favour of leeds. How juvenile. Still remember all the dice and their number combinations...green was best

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    1. Great memories, Paul! I'm sure you weren't the only one to massage the rules to allow your favourite team to prosper! :)

      All the best - Chris O.

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  18. I had this as a child in 1978. I also bought the cd but then developed my own Excel sheets and have completed 80 seasons. I haven't the Excel knowledge to run it on a pc so print sheets out. I bought coloured dice off the internet and developed the game further by ranking teams from 1 (Real Madrid, Bayern etc) down to 8 for Conference teams. I have seen several people on the web who run the game on Excel.

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    1. Fascinating! Do you know of any websites devoted to playing Logacta at all?

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