The lights are on
Matchups are important in football, and Gree's iOS title NFL Shuffle is a card-based game using official licenses that pits players against each other in a fight up and down the field.
The game, out now, is free, and gives you a starter pack of players you can use to earn other players as you go (whether through playing or spending the in-game Gold currency). Of course, you can also spend real money for players. For example, a Premium card pack costs 250 Gold/$2.99 and gets you a single player who is Grade 3 or higher.
Your lineup of players consists of six offensive starters and six defensive starters. Three of them must be a certain position (QB, WR/TE, and RB for offense and DL, LB, and DB for defense), while the other three are flex positions that can be filled by any player on that side of the ball.
Once in the game, the object is to drive 80-yards for a TD in four plays (there are no first downs). Each "play" pits one of your cards against one from your opponent. Each card has a Grade, Overall number, and Level assigned to it. Naturally, the higher each of these is the better, and usually the higher the Overall rating a player is means he'll win the battle on that particular down. What does that mean? It depends. Winning while on offense can mean a big 23-yard pass play, or on defense it'll mean a more modest gain by your opponent. There is some variability here since the game has turnovers, and even when you're rated higher than your foe, you can't always predict outcomes.
There are a variety of strategic factors to take into account. The player you use against your opponent on any given down is your Primary card. You can also see your and your opponent's Secondary cards – the cards that will be used for the next down. Thus, if you know you have a stronger Secondary card coming up on third down, you might be fine with playing a weaker Primary card on second down. You can Swap the positions of your Primary and Secondary cards three times each half, and Shuffle everyone's cards once each half. Using Swaps and Shuffles can be important to engineer good matchups not only to win a particular down, but also to plan ahead so you get good field position when your opponent turns the ball over on downs.
Playing the right players at the right time is also possible if you take into account the matchups between different positions. For instance, LBs are strong versus QBs, DLs are strong versus RBs, and DBs are strong versus RBs. So, even if you play an inferior DL against a superior RB, you know that their rushing yards on that play will be minimized because you've played the right positional matchup. This also comes into play when you're building your deck (you can even change your lineup at halftime). You don't necessarily want to fill your three flex positions with all RBs for instance, even if they are rated higher than some other offensive players in your deck.
You can utilize the extra cards in your deck by selling them off for in-game cash (which is different than Gold) and you can discard them to "mentor" other players in your deck and make them stronger. Up to six players can be sacrificed to boost the Level of another player. Of course, cards will gain XP and get better on their own through playing them, and there are various prizes you'll get for winning or completing different goals along the way.
NFL Shuffle lets you play through all the NFL teams (one division at a time) in its Season mode, or you can square off against other users in Versus games consisting of a single half of football. Gree is promising extra content in the future (hopefully before the Super Bowl), including raising the Grade cap (it's currently six), adding special skills and situational bonuses to cards (like having a DL be a Run Stuffer), the ability to play specific friends, and more.
In the meantime, you can start playing now for free and build your roster and work your strategies as you take on the NFL's best players.
Trade in cards you don't want to make other players stronger
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
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