“It’s Not How You Play.


It’s How You Win.”


Lawrence “Lunchbox” Kinkaid.















INAUGURAL EDITION First Printing, October 1995 Upper Deck and the card/hologram combination are trademarks of The Upper Deck Company.  Ó 1995 The Upper Deck Company.  All Rights Reserved.  GRIDIRON FANTASY FOOTBALL and IT’S NOT HOW YOU PLAY.  IT’S HOW YOU WIN. are trademarks of Precedence Publishing, Inc.  Copyright Ó 1995 Precedence Publishing, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

It is the near future and the world is a darker, rougher place than the one we know.  Tough times breed tough people and grim pastimes.


American football is now the number one sport, and its worldwide fans number in the billions.  Much like ancient Rome, these fans flock to see the blood of heroes flow.


Football is more than a game: it’s a way of life, a forge to test the mettle of the toughest gridiron gladiators… and break the bones of those too weak to hack it in the league.


Sure, there are rules.  But only one rule prevails:

It’s not how you play.  It’s how you win.

Upper DeckÔ Gridiron Fantasy FootballÔ is a fantasy game depicting football action in a dark, futuristic setting, which is more violent than the way football is currently played.


The game is not intended to be a depiction of real professional football.  The teams, players, coaches and situations surrounding this futuristic game are fictional.


Due to the graphic nature of this fictional world, the game is suitable for mature players only.  Please use discretion when exposing this product to children.



Upper DeckÔ Gridiron Fantasy FootballÔ (GFF) is a football trading card game for two or more players, a merger between collectible trading cards and a card game.  Playing time averages 30-45 minutes for a short game.


If you have never played GFF before, we suggest you start with the Quick ‘N Dirty Rules enclosed on a separate sheet.  They’ll help you get a feel for the game, and you can begin playing almost immediately!


Most of the game’s structure is based on the rules of real football.  For example, a team on offense is allowed four downs to gain ten yards and a first down – if he fails, his opponent takes possession of the ball.  The basic rules of football are found in Appendix A on page 52.


GFF may also be played with as many players as you wish (see Appendix B on page 62), or in a League format, complete with a playoff structure and your own GFF Iron Bowl (Appendix C on page 65).  In a League, you’ll play multiple games against different opponents over the course of an extended “season” according to a preset schedule, just as in an actual football league.


Game Components


GFF is played almost entirely with Upper DeckÔ Gridiron Fantasy FootballÔ cards, sold in 60-card Starter Decks and 12-card Booster Packs.  Each contains a semi-random assortment from a complete set of more than 300 collectible game cards.  There are five different types of cards, each with a distinctive back so you can easily tell them apart.


Each player needs his own deck to play.  While there are more than 300 different cards, you and your opponent will each use only 60-120 cards in a game.  As a result, some (or many) of the cards in your deck won’t be in your opponent’s deck; you may have never even seen some of his cards before!


To make it even more interesting, some GFF cards are common, some uncommon, others rare, and a few are very rare.  This makes it a challenge to collect the whole set and makes each opponent you play unique.


Each player needs at least one Starter Deck (or an equivalent number of cards) to play.  You’ll share the Playing Field on the back of the Quick ‘N Dirty Rules and a number of coins or small markers to keep track of yardage and scores (you may improvise your own form of record keeping).  Players will also need a coin for traditional coin flips.



Success in GFF requires winning Challenges between the players.  In a Challenge, each person plays cards with the appropriate Key Ability symbols; whoever plays the most symbols wins the Challenge.


The Key Ability Symbols


There are four different Key Abilities in GFF, each with its own symbol.  Any card may include one or more Key Ability symbols which indicate the primary attribute it brings to the success of a play:


Power (arm symbol):

Used in plays where a team’s strength and power determine the success of the play.


Speed (foot symbol):

Used in plays where a team’s quickness determines the success of the play.



Skill (football symbol):

Used in play’s where a team’s skills and training determine the success of the play.



Mental (helmet symbol):

Used in plays where a team’s intelligence and instincts determine the success of the play.



A few cards have a fifth symbol:


Wild (question mark symbol):

Can represent any symbol, as explained on applicable cards.






Choose Game Length


In the futuristic world of GFF, football is incredibly dangerous and grueling.  The shrinking attention span of the average fan and the high rate of injury have resulted in shorter games.  Game length is measured by the number of Drives, each consisting of one or more consecutive Plays while the same player is on Offense, and ending when the Defense gains possession of the ball.


Game Type

# of Drives






10 (two 5-drive halves)


Decide your game length (your first game should be a short game of four Drives).


Sort Cards


Sort you cards into five piles (see card backs):


Offensive Plays · Defensive Plays · Offensive Actions · Defensive Actions · Team cards


Choose Team Cards


Both teams are assumed to have a full complement of players, coaches, etc., but each team also has special resources that make it great (e.g. Star Players, a great Coach, a team Franchise, etc.), represented by Team cards


Game Type

# of Team Cards






7 or More!


There are a few rules regarding which Team cards you may use:


            There can be no duplicates among the teams.

                (Exception: Both teams can have Corporate Sponsers)


                Each team can only have one Coach.


            Each team can only have one Franchise.


            You can only have one Active Star Player per position, e.g. you can’t have two Quarterbacks Active at the same time.


Lay your selected Team cards face-down on the table between you and your opponent.





When choosing your Team cards, make sure they support each other and work well with your Play and Action cards.  Your Team cards should determine the theme for your entire deck.



Choose Starting Playbooks


You and your opponent both have Offensive and Defensive Playbooks that represent the Plays your team has practiced to near-perfection.  Choose six Offensive Play cards for your Offensive Playbook and six Defensive Play cards for your Defensive Playbook.  You must choose at least one Run Play and one Pass Play for each Playbook.


Keep the cards you’re not using nearby so you can swap them in later.  During halftime of a full game, you may repeat this step and start the second half with completely new Playbooks.


Set your Playbooks face-down on the table.


Shuffle Action Cards


You and your opponent also both have Offensive Action Decks and Defensive Action Decks, each composed of a minimum of 15 different cards.


You can only have one of any particular card for each multiple of 15 cards in each Action deck (round down):


Action Deck Size

# of Each Card

up to 29











EXAMPLE: Joe has 23 cards in his Offensive Action Deck, so he can’t have any duplicates.  Bob, on the other hand, has 40 cards in his Offensive Action Deck, so he can have duplicates, but he can’t have three of any card.


Shuffle each Action deck separately and place them face-down on the table.



Coin Toss


Flip a coin.  The winner decides whether he’d like to be the Home Team or the Visitor’s Team.  The Home Team receives the opening Kickoff (the Visitor’s Team will receive the Kickoff at the start of the second half in a Full-length game).


Prepare the Playing Field


Set the Playing Field between you and your opponent, off to one side and oriented with the Home and Visitor sides closest to the appropriate player.  Put markers on the “1” in the Down area, the “1” in the Drive area, and start the team scores at zero.


Reveal Team cards


Take turns turning your Team cards face-up: the Visitor’s Team begins by revealing one card.  Next, the Home Team reveals two cards, and the Visitor reveals two.  Continue to reveal them two-at-a-time until the Visitor finishes by turning over his last unrevealed card.  If you and your opponent reveal an identical card, the last person to reveal it must replace it by calling up a replacement from any extra Team cards.


The Kickoff


It’s time for the opening kick!


If you’re kicking off, you’re temporarily on Offense: draw five Offensive Action cards off the top of your Deck.  If you’re receiving the kick, you’re temporarily on Defense, so draw five Defensive Action cards.


Either player may now play an appropriate kick-off Action card, such as “Onside Kick.”


The receiving team can now either:


Declare a touchback and take the ball at their 20-yard line.




Return the kick, attempting to gain some yards immediately.


To return the kick, play a Quick Challenge (most kicks in GFF involve a Quick Challenge).  In a Kickoff Quick Challenge, the ball starts at the 20-yard line (the baseline of the Quick Challenge).  Offensive Action cards push the ball back two yards (back to the 18-yard line, the 16, the 14, etc.)  and Defensive Action cards push the ball forward five yards (to the 25-yard line, the 30, etc.) as described below:


A Quick Challenge

The kicking team uses their Offensive Action Hand and the receiving team uses their Defensive Action Hand.  The kicking team declares a Key Ability for the kickoff.


Both players place zero to five of their Action cards face-down that have the declared Key Ability symbol on them, covering them with their hands so their opponents can’t count the number of cards they’re playing.


Reveal all of the cards at once and compare the number of Key Ability symbols.  If both teams reveal the same number of symbols, the ball stays at the baseline.  If the receiving team reveals more symbols, he gains yards for each symbol more than the kicking team reveals and the ball moves forward.  If the kicking team reveals more symbols, move the ball back for each symbol more than the receiving team revealed.


Discard the used Action cards.  Return unplayed Action cards to the top of the decks.


Joe (Offense) kicks off to Bob (Defense).  Neither plays a kickoff Action card.  Bob decides he’ll run it back – the crowd roars with pleasure!  Joe has a lot of Mental (helmet) Key Ability symbols in his Action Hand, so he announces the Key Ability for the runback will be Mental.  He selects three Offensive Action cards and puts them face-down on the table, covering them with his hand so Bob can’t see how many he’s using.  Bob secretly puts his hand down, hiding one Defensive Action card.  Both players reveal the cards.  Joe’s three cards have a total of 4 Mental symbols.  Bob’s lone card has 2 Mental symbols.  The difference is two, moving the ball back to the 16-yard line.  It’s now 1st and 10.


Put a marker at the ball’s location on the Playing Field (a penny works well), and put another, different marker (a dime works well) 10 yards away signifying the distance to a First Down.  The receiving team is now on Offense and the kicking team is now on Defense.



Update Your Playbook


The new Offensive player picks up his Offensive Playbook and the Defensive player picks up his Defensive Playbook.


Both players may exchange one Play card in their Playbook for one they’re not currently using.




Use a well-balanced Offensive Playbook with short- and long-yardage Run and Pass Plays.




Rotate your Plays at the beginning of every Drive – this will prevent your Playbook from becoming too predictable.  Eliminate Plays with symbols your opponent seems to have a lot of.




If you are strong in a Key Ability, try to have a Pass Play and a Run Play in your Playbook that take advantage of it.  Spread out the rest of your plays to cover other Key Abilities featured in your Action deck.


Draw Action Cards


The Offensive player draws five Offensive Action cards and the Defensive player draws five Defensive Action cards.  If you run out of cards in your Action Deck, you must play with fewer cards for that Play.  You may reshuffle your discard pile at the end of the Play to form a new Action Deck.




Activate Team Cards


Turn any Team cards you’d like to use for the next Play face-up, making them Active, and turn any cards you won’t use face-down, Deactivating them.  Deactivate all of your Defensive Team cards if you’re on Offense and vice versa.  Note that Offensive Team cards have gold-colored plaques on their faces, Defensive cards have silver-colored plaques, and Team cards which are neither Offensive nor Defensive have copper-colored plaques, making it easy to identify their type at a glance.


Bob turns his star quarterback face-up since he is on Offense and wishes to use his abilities during the Play.  Joe turns his star running back face-down since he cannot use his abilities while he is on Defense.


Choose a Play


Choose a card from your Playbook and lay it face-down on the table.




Remember that the Offense needs to get a First Down…

make sure your Play doesn’t give it to him.





Shorter yardage Plays have a better chance of completion – you should usually only go for the yardage you need.  Make sure your Action cards support the Play … yardage isn’t everything.



Watch the Plays your enemy is using – you’ll find that you can start to predict the Play he might call and the symbols he favors.


Reveal Play and Determine the Advantage


Both players reveal their Plays.  If both are Run plays or both are Pass plays, the Defense called the play correctly and has the Advantage.  Otherwise, the Offense has the Advantage.


The Dominant Ability


The Key Ability symbols on the Play card for the side with the Advantage determine the Dominant Ability for this play.


Initial Ability Totals


Count the Dominant Ability symbols on your Play card and add in symbols from applicable Active Team cards – this is your initial Ability Total.  Mark your current Total on the Playing Field.


Bob (Offense) has the ball 1st and 10 at his own 16.  Bob secretly puts down “Slant,” a Pass Play, while Joe (Defense) secretly puts down “Greased Pigskin,” a Run Play.  They reveal their Plays: Joe called the Play incorrectly (he thought Bob was going to try a Run), so Bob has the Advantage.  On Bob’s Play card there are two Skill (football) symbols so that’s the Dominant Ability for the play.  Joe’s Play card luckily has one Skill symbol as well.  Furthermore, Joe has a Team card that gives him +1 Skill versus a Pass.  The intial Ability Totals, then, are 2 to 2.




To win the Challenge, and therefore the Play, both players try to create the highest Ability Total.  Note: A tie between Ability Totals is won by the team with the Advantage.


Improve Ability Totals


The player with the lower Ability Total attempts to improve his Total first by playing Challenge Action cards (remember that the player with the Advantage wins any ties).


Bob has an Ability Total of 2 and Joe has an Ability Total of 2: since Bob has the Advantage, Joe has the lower Total and plays first.


To improve your Total, lay down Challenge Action cards containing Dominant Ability symbols until your Ability Total is higher than your opponent’s – you must pass if you can’t increase your Total beyond your opponent’s.  You may also choose to pass if you wish to retain your Action cards.


The other player now lays down Challenge Action cards until his Ability Total is higher than yours, or passes.


Continue taking turns until both players pass consecutively.  You’re never required to play a card (or a combination of cards), but if you do, it must improve your Total (see below for Legal Improvements).




Sometimes cards in play will require you to “Double” your opponent’s Total in order for a special result to occur – this simply means improving your Total to at least twice your opponent’s Total.


Secondary Challenges


Some cards list a Secondary Challenge and a Key Ability that provide a special effect, like an Interception, Fumble, or breakaway.


A Secondary Challenge can only succeed if the Primary Challenge is successful – the Challenges are simultaneous, and cards already in play count toward the Secondary Ability Totals.


Use a separate row of symbols on the Playing Field to keep track of any Secondary Challenges.


Legal Improvements


You can play Challenge Action cards if they:


Increase your Ability Total beyond your opponent’s; or


Increase a Secondary Challenge’s Ability Total beyond your opponent’s; or


Increase your Ability Total in order to Double your opponent’s Total; or


Increase your Ability Total to prevent you from being Doubled by your opponent.


You cannot play Challenge Action cards if:


Your Total is already higher than your opponent’s and you’re not attempting to Double.


Non-Challenge Actions


Action cards with no Ability Symbols (with the word “Action” along the right-hand side rather than the word “Challenge”) can be played at any appropriate time and their effects are immediate.




If the Offense has the higher Ability Total, the play is Successful: apply the Objective stated on the Offensive Play card.


If the Defense has the higher Ability Total, the play has been Stopped: apply the Objective on the Defensive Play card.


Remember that any tie goes to the player with the Advantage.

Modifying Objectives


Some Play cards and non-Challenge Action cards list effects that modify the Objective if the Play succeeds or fails.  This modified Objective is applied instead of the original Objective.


Last time we checked, Bob and Joe were tied with Ability Totals of 2 each and Bob had the Advantage.  Now Joe (Defense) plays an Action card with 3 Skill symbols, giving him a Total of 5.  Bob (Offense) plays a card with two Skill symbols and another with 3, bringing his Total to 7.  Joe has to pass because he’s out of Action cards with Skill symbols.  Bob, with a fiendish look on his face, plays “Go All the Way,” a non-Challenge Action card that modifies his original Objective of a 6-yard gain (from his “Slant” play).  The card says that if he wins the challenge by Double, he scores a Touchdown!  He then plays a final Challenge Action card with three Skill symbols, bringing his Total to 10, versus Joe’s 5.  Bob racks up a TD!


Some cards specify that there is a “minimum loss” of yardage.  In that instance, the Defensive player can modify his Objective to the minimum loss or may apply his normal Objective.


Special Results


Challenge Action cards commonly list a Special Result.  If the last card played by the winning side was a Challenge Action, apply that card’s Special Result, even if it doesn’t benefit the winning side.  Never apply a Special Result from any other Challenge Action card.


The “Slant” Play Bob used had an Objective of 6 yards.  His “Go All the Way” card modified the Objective into a Touchdown.  However, the last Challenge Action card he played has a Special Result of -3 yards: this foils the TD, moving the ball back to Joe’s 3-yard line, with a First Down and goal to go!  The crowd goes wild as Joe gets a final chance to stop Bob.


In some cases, a Special Result will call for an additional Secondary Challenge.  In this case, additional Challenge Action cards played only affect the additional Secondary Challenge – do not apply a second Special Result.



Action cards with the most symbols also have the worst Special Results.  Stack your deck with some cards that have few symbols but better Special Results – it will be well worth the effort if you win a Play using one as your last Action card.




Certain plays can result in an Injury to a Star Player (and in rare cases to other personnel, like a Coach!).  Any time there’s a choice of Star Players to be Injured, the team inflicting the Injury makes the choice.  Inactive Team cards are normally safe from Injury.


Injuries have the effect of removing a card from play for a specific period of time depending on the severity of an injury.  Some cards in the game increase or decrease the severity of an Injury – these effects are cumulative.  The severity is modified using the following scale:


No Injury – still in the game.

Shaken Up – out for the next Play.

Hurt – out for the rest of the current Drive.

Injured – out for the rest of the current half.

Badly Injured – out for the game.

R.I.P. – We’re talking out on a stretcher!

Rip up this card and throw it away!


Bob plays a card that Shakes Up one of Joe’s Star Players, choosing “Lunchbox” Kinkaid.  Bob also has two other cards that each increase the severity of the injury one level: Kinkaid is now Injured, and is out of the game for the rest of the half.




Wait a minute, didn’t your opponent just cheat?  Did the ref have his glasses on?  Was he facing the right direction or gazing at a cheerleader on the sidelines?


Determine Penalty Risk


Look at the lower left corner on every Play and Action card just used – some cards will have a Penalty Risk indicated by a white number in a black disk.  The lower the number, the more flagrant the foul committed: a card with a Penalty Risk of 1 is very easy to catch, while a Penalty Risk of 5 is very difficult for the referees to spot.


Determine which team played a card with the lowest-numbered Penalty Risk.  If both sides have the same low number, there is no chance for a penalty since the referees won’t stop play when both sides cheat just as flagrantly.


If one side has committed a more flagrant foul, the other player can attempt to bring it to the ref’s attention.  If the fouling player has more than on card with the lowest Penalty Risk, the other player picks which one he’d like the ref to see.


Bob played two Action cards that have a Penalty Risk of 3.  If Joe is able to get the penalty flagged, he can choose which of the penalties will be called on the play.




Don’t play too many cards with Penalty Risks, especially ones with very flagrant fouls.  The greater benefits are tempting, but the whole play can be lost if the referees catch the penalty.  It’s also important to have Team and Action cards that help keep you from being caught.


Complain to the Referee


If the other player committed the most flagrant foul, you can complain to the ref by playing one or more of the Action cards still in your Hand that have Referee Alerts in the lower left-hand corner, indicated by black numbers on yellow disks.


The total of the Referee Alert numbers must equal or exceed the Penalty Risk number of the offending card in order to flag the Penalty.  The Referee Alert numbers of any Action cards already played do not count towards the total.


Bob’s Penalty Risk is 3, so Joe could play three Action cards, each with a Referee Alert of 1, or perhaps two with a Referee Alert of 2, bringing the foul to the ref’s attention.





Keep an eye on the Referee Alert values of the Action cards in your hand – be prepared to bring your opponent’s Penalties to the ref’s attention.


Penalty Results


If the Penalty is caught, the player alerting the referee has a choice.  He can either:


Decline the penalty, accepting the results of the play, OR


Accept the penalty.  Ignore all yardage results for the play, including turnovers and scores.  Starting at the original line of scrimmage, move the ball the number of yards specified on the Penalty-producing card.  The Down is not marked (if it was Second Down, it will still be Second Down unless the ball advanced past the First Down marker).  Injuries and other Special Results, if appropriate, are still applied (for instance, a Special Result requiring the next play to be a Run would remain in effect).


Note: Penalty yards can never be assessed for more than half the distance to the goal line.  For instance, a 15-yard penalty at the 11-yard line moves the ball to the 6-yard line (11 yards to the goal divided by 2 is 5.5, rounded down to a 5-yard penalty).




Advance the Down marker to the next Down or reset it to the First Down if one was achieved.


Return your Play cards to the appropriate Playbook.


Discard all Action cards used during the Play.


You may discard one of the Action cards remaining in your Action Hand.


Draw Action cards until you have five.  Note that this is the only time during normal play that you are allowed to refill your Action Hand.  You must complete the Play, any Secondary Challenges, Penalties, etc. using only the five Action cards with which you started the play.


If the Drive isn’t over (see below), start a new Play (page 13).



A Drive ends when one of the following occurs:




Instead of calling a normal Offensive Play, you may choose to Punt.


Advance the ball 40 yards downfield (if the ball enters the end zone, move the ball to the Defense’s 20-yard line).  The Defensive (receiving) team takes possession of the ball.


He can then choose to:


Call a fair catch and take possession of the ball where it is, OR


Attempt a runback.  Play a Quick Challenge (page 11) using the ball’s new location as the baseline, moving the ball back two yards or forward 5 yards for each extra symbol played.


Field Goals


Instead of calling a normal Offensive Play, you may choose to try for a Field Goal.


A Field Goal is good if the goal line is within the distance the ball is kicked.


Determine how far the ball is kicked by playing a Quick Challenge (page 11) using a 20-yard distance as the baseline, adjusting the distance back one yard or forward one yard for each extra symbol played.


If the ball is closer to the goal line than that distance, the Field Goal is successful.  Score three points and Kickoff to your opponent.


If the ball is farther away, the Field Goal fails.  The Defensive player takes possession of the ball at the line of scrimmage.


Bob attempts a Field Goal from the 24-yard line.  He declares Power (arm) symbols as the Key Ability for the Play.  He and Joe play a Quick Challenge.  Bob reveals a total of seven Power symbols while Joe only reveals two, so the kick travels 25 yards (20-yard baseline plus 5 yards for Bob’s extra symbols), one more than the 24 yards he needs.  It’s GOOD!




If a normal Offensive Play ends with the ball reaching or passing the Defensive player’s 0-yard line, the Offensive player makes a Touchdown and scores six points!


After a Touchdown, you may either:


Kick the extra point, adding 1 to your score, OR


Go for two.  Attempt one play from the Defensive player’s 2-yard line, adding two points to you score if you reach or cross the 0-yard line.


Start a new Drive with a normal Kickoff.




If a normal Offensive Play ends with the ball reaching or passing the Offensive player’s 0-yard line, the Defensive player scores two points and takes possession of the ball after a special Kickoff as follows.


Play a Quick Challenge (see page 11) using the receiving team’s 40-yard line as the baseline, moving the ball back two yards or forward five yards for each extra symbol played.


Not Making a First Down


If you fail to achieve a First Down after four Downs, the Defensive player gains possession of the ball at the final line of scrimmage.




If a card indicates an Interception has occurred, the Defensive player takes possession of the ball and attempts a runback.


Play a Quick Challenge (see page 11) with the intercepting player taking the role of the receiver.  Use the location where the ball would have been if the pass had been successful as the baseline, moving the ball back zero yards (it can’t be pushed back after an Interception) or forward four yards for each extra symbol played.




If a card indicates a Fumble has occurred, the Defensive player takes possession of the ball at the original line of scrimmage.


End of a Drive


Advance the Drive marker to the next Drive.  If you haven’t completed the agreed-upon number of Drives, start a new Drive (page 12).


Adjust the Down marker back to the First Down and adjust the First Down marker on the Playing Field 10 yards downfield from the ball’s new location.


Discard any number of Action cards from your Action Hand.  Place your remaining Action Hand on top of the appropriate Action Deck.


Place your Playbook across the top of your Action Deck.




If you’ve completed all the Drives, the clock has run out and the game is over – the player with the most points wins!


Note: if the game is over and the teams are in position for a final kick, you must play through that kick before determining the winner.


If the game ends in a tie, it’s time for Sudden Death Overtime!  Start it with a Coin Toss and a Kickoff – the first player to score in Overtime wins the game.




Rules on Cards


Any rules (or bending of rules) printed on a card supersede the Official Rules in this rulebook.


Limited-Use Cards


Cards that specify that they can only be used once per half may only be used once per game in Short or Medium games.


Cards which may only be used during the first half may only be used during the first half of the drives of Short and Medium games.


Plays with Continuing Effects


Some Plays, when successfully run, have effects which continue for a certain period of time after the Play.  Remove the Play card from your Playbook and place it face-up next to your Team cards.


Once its effects no longer apply, return it to your Playbook.  This means that such Plays can never be run multiple times for concurrent effects.


If the effect of a Play continues through an opportunity to switch Plays in your Playbook, you can swap it out without canceling its effect – just keep the original Play card with the Team cards until its effect is over, then put it with your unused Plays.


Action Cards with Continuing Effects


Some Action cards also have lasting effects.  Keep these with the Team cards, as above.  Identical Action cards may not generate the same effect again.


For instance, the special effect for “Grind Them Down” causes the Defense to spend one additional Skill symbol per Play for the rest of the Drive.  The Offense can still play additional “Grind Them Down” Action cards for the benefit of their Key Ability symbols or Referee Alert values, but the Defense won’t have to spend extra Skill symbols beyond the first due to their concurrent use.  Once the effect is over, however, a “Grind Them Down” card could be played again and its special effect would be reapplied.




Deck Design Limits


Setting limits on which cards may be used in constructing each player’s decks is a good way to keep the game interesting, leveling the playing field between players who have considerably different numbers of cards in their collections.


Players might limit themselves to using only one of any particular card, or to no more than two of a particular Action card.


Players might be limited to a given starting pool of cards (“In this League we’ll each design decks out of two new Starter Decks and eight Booster Packs, O.K.?”).


Common Team cards (such as Formations) might be permitted to both players, or could be the only cards used as substitutes if both players attempt to reveal the same Team cards.


You may want to vary the number of Plays permitted in each Playbook, or permit each player to use every Formation.


Be sure to state and agree on all deck design limits and optional rules during the Setup portion of the game.



We hope you enjoy this game.  We’d like to hear from you regarding what you did and did not like about GFF, and want to hear about any ideas you may have for how we might improve subsequent editions and expansions.


Please address all questions, comments, and/or suggestions you may have to either our postal or e-mail addresses below.


All questions should be phrased as yes or no questions whenever possible.  Regrettably, due to the volume of correspondence we receive, we reserve the right not to answer any question which is not phrased in this manner.  Questions submitted by mail should include a SASE to ensure a reply.


You can reach us at:


GFF Questions

(or GFF Suggestions)

Precedence Publishing

P. O. Box 28397

Tempe, AZ 85285




You are also welcome to submit card ideas (all submissions become property of Precedence Publishing and may be used without permission or compensation to the submitter) – you may see them implemented in future expansions!


GFF Editions


There are two inaugural editions of GFF.  The Retail Edition is sold in major retail outlets and the Hobby Edition is only available in specialty stores.  The two editions are distinguished by different color packaging and by different color hologram stamps on their respective rare cards.  Each edition features many rare cards unique to that edition.  They also have their own set of very rare chase cards.


Be on the lookout for the first GFF expansion set, featuring dirty plays, outlawed equipment, and a fistful of Star Players so nasty they’ve been kicked out of the League (scary thought, isn’t it?).


Where to Find GFF


GFF products can be found at specialty gaming, sports card, hobby, book, and comic shops throughout North America, as well as in major retail outlets that recognize a really cool new game when they see one.  Many stores will be running GFF Tournaments and starting Leagues.  If for some reason you can’t find GFF cards in your local area, you can order them by calling Direct Sports at 1-800-505-4144 (orders only, please).  This is also the number to call if you’ve won a prize in an officially sanctioned Upper Deck™ Gridiron Fantasy Football™ Kick-Off Tournament.




Hey you armchair quarterbacks!  Need a refresher course in the basic rules of football?  Well, this appendix was made for you.  If you want to dominate the Gridiron, you’ll need to know a few things – like when to call for a punt, and when it’s time to leave Ethel to guard the seats while you get up to go buy a hot dog.


The Football Field


A football field is 50 yards wide and 100 yards long.  Each end also has an “end zone” that extends the field 10 yards longer in both directions.  The game has two opposing teams, each starting on a different end of the field.


Each team tries to move the football into the opposing player’s end zone to score a “touchdown.”  The football is always spotted (set on the ground) somewhere between the 1 and the 50 yard line on either the offensive or defensive side of the field.  Gains (+) in yardage move the ball forward from the previous location of the ball (called the “line of scrimmage”), towards the goal the offensive team is trying to reach.  Losses (-) in yardage move the ball backwards from the previous line of scrimmage.  Yardage gains on the offensive side of the field “add” to the yard-line while on the defensive side of the field they subtract.  For example, if the football is spotted at the offensive 47-yard line and there is a 5-yard gain, then the new line of scrimmage will be the defensive 48-yard line.  The first three yards gained have taken the ball to the 50-yard line.  The next two yards carry into the defender’s side of the field and count down from the 50 to the 48.  An advance to (or past) the “0” yard line on either side of the field results in a touchdown.


Players on the Field


In American football, each team has 11 players on the field.  The teams take turns either on “Defense” (defending their end zone) or on “Offense” (trying to carry the football into the opposing end zone).  Typically, different players are used by a Coach when on offense and when on defense.  Each player has a “Position” they take on the field.  While GFF teams consist of 11 players per side, only the Star Players are represented by the Team cards.


Downs and Plays


When on offense, a team has 4 “downs” (attempts) in which to gain 10 yards.  If the offense cannot move the ball a total of 10 yards forward during those 4 downs, then the opposition gets control of the ball at the line of scrimmage.  If the offense gains the necessary 10 yards within four downs then they are said to have gained a “1st down,” and they get 4 more downs to gain 10 more yards.  When the offense is on their 4th down, they must decide whether or not to punt the ball (or, if close enough, try for a field goal).  Sometimes a gutsy coach might ‘go for it’ and try for a first down instead.


Except in special situations, most coaches will kick on 4th down, in which case the opposing team gains possession of the ball after the punt.  A punt is a kick in which the center snaps the ball to the punter, who tries to kick the ball as far downfield as possible.  The punter becomes the most wanted man on the field while the opposition tries to block the kick.  Successful blocks are rare, however, and require special cards in Gridiron.  If blocked, the ball is recovered by whoever can touch it dead to the ground first, which usually results in the defense gaining possession, either through recovering the blocked kick, or because the offense failed to achieve a first down if they recovered it.  After receiving a punt the opposition can try to run the kick back.


If the team has advanced far enough downfield, the offense may opt for a field goal.  Instead of a snap to the punter, one man fields the snap (takes the ball from the center) and holds the ball in place near the ground while the kicker attempts to kick it through the uprights at the end of the field.  Again, the defense will make an attempt (usually futile) to block the kick.


The distance of a field goal is usually measured in yards the kick travels.  The ball is generally kicked from 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, and the uprights are at the back of the end zone, so a field goal travels 17 yards further than the line of scrimmage would seem to indicate.  If the ball is at the 25-yard line, the kicker must make a 42-yard field goal. In GFF, however, the 7-yards back from the line of scrimmage rule and the extra ten yards to the uprights are ignored – the ball must merely travel from the line of scrimmage to the goal line.


The offense may choose to kick on any down they desire.  This is usually only down when the offense is within field goal range and will win the game with a successful kick.




Scoring is as follows: A touchdown is worth 6 points.  A successful extra point kick, which is allowed right after a touchdown, is worth 1 point.  A successful extra point play from the 2-yard line into the end zone, which can be attempted instead of the extra point kick, is worth 2 points.  A safety, where the defense manages to push the offense backwards behind their own 0-yard line, is worth 2 points.  A successful field goal is worth 3 points.


Advancing the Football


The offensive player use either “forward pass” plays or “running” plays to advance the football from the line of scrimmage to attempt to attain 1st downs and ultimately enter the opposing player’s end zone.

Sacking the Quarterback


Anytime a quarterback “drops” back to pass the ball and is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, it is considered to be a quarterback sack.  In GFF game terms, any Pass Play that results in a loss of yardage is considered a sack.


Offensive Player Positions


The 11 offensive player positions are a Center (C), two Guards (G), two Tackles (T), two Wide Receivers (WR), a Tight End (TE), a Quarterback (QB), a Halfback (HB), and a Fullback (FB).  In kicking situations, a Kicker (K) comes out on the field to replace one of the backs (often the Quarterback).  In some formations, additional Wide Receivers replace Running Backs and/or Tight Ends and in other formations second and third Tight Ends replace wide receivers.


Defensive Player Positions


Different defensive formations vary the number of Linebackers and Defensive Tackles.  A defensive line-up usually consists of three to five Linebackers (LB), zero to two Defensive Tackles (DT), two Defensive Ends (DE), two Cornerbacks (CB), a Free Safety (FS), and a Strong Safety (SS).


Offensive Formations


An offense is equipped with 5 offensive linemen (the center, the guards, and the tackles), one quarterback, and a combination of running backs and receivers.  The center is the offensive lineman who snaps the ball to the quarterback.  He is flanked by 2 guards (one on each side).  On the outside shoulders of the guards are tackles (one on the left and one on the right).  The tackles must have a receiver outside of them, totaling 7 men on the line of scrimmage.  The quarterback lines up behind the center.  Generally speaking, the running backs line up behind the guards.  This varies with the offensive formation, however.


Defensive Formations


The 3-4 Defense: A defense made of 3 defensive linemen, 4 linebackers and 4 defensive backs.
The 4-3 Defense: A defense made of 4 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers and 4 defensive backs.
Nickel Defense: A defense made of 3 defensive linemen, 3 linebackers and 5 defensive backs.
Each defensive formation has strengths and weaknesses.  Generally speaking, the more linebackers, the stronger the defense is against running plays at the cost of defending against pass plays.


Glossary of Football Terms


Blocking:  Any player may attempt to obstruct the movement of an opposing player; usually this is done by the offense, keeping the defense away from the ball carrier or quarterback.


Defense:  The group of players trying to stop a touchdown from being scored.


Defensive Ends:  Defensive linemen who try to stop running plays or sack the opposing quarterback.  They line up outside the defensive tackles.


End Zone:  A section of the football field 10 yards deep behind each goal line.  If a football is carried into the end zone on a run, a touchdown is scored as soon as the ball crosses the plane of the goal line.  On a pass play, however, the ball must be caught and controlled by the offensive player for the touchdown to count.  The end zone exists primarily to give pass receivers room to maneuver once they have crossed the goal line.  Passes caught beyond the end zone score no points.  However, in GFF ANY pass which gains at least as much yardage as necessary to make it into the end zone will result in a touchdown (excess pass yardage is not taken into account).


Extra Point:  The offense, after scoring a touchdown, can either kick the ball through the goal posts for an extra point or may try for a 2-point conversion.  A place-kicker attempts to kick the ball through the uprights of the goal post (the ball is snapped from the 2-yard line).  Alternately, the offense can try to cross the goal line from the 2-yard line by either passing or running the ball.


Field:  The 100 yards from goal line to goal line.  The 10 yards of end zone lie beyond the goal line.  The field is 50 yards wide.


Field Goal:  Three points are scored when the offense manages to kick the ball through the goal post.


Goal Line:  The lines that run the width of the field separating the field from the end zone.  When the offense crosses their opponent’s goal line they score a touchdown.


Goal Post:  The “Y” shaped structure in the end zone.  “Uprights” are the vertical bars on the goal post.


Hand-off:  For running plays, the quarterback takes the snap from the center, then hands it to a running back.


Line of Scrimmage:  The invisible line that the ball sits on, running the width of the field.


Offense:  The group of players (on one team) trying to score points, either with field goals or touchdowns.


Safety:  A 2-point score caused by tackling the offensive ball carrier within his own end zone.


Tackling:  The defense tries to tackling the ball carrier by dragging him to the ground, ending the play.


Touchdown:  When the offense crosses the goal line



O.K., so you and your friends have gathered to play GFF.  The trouble is there are more than two of you, so what do you do?  Here are a few ideas:


Three-Player Games


Have two players combine to coach one team, against the third player’s team.  The two-person team can jointly decide on the Team cards to use from both their collections.  One coach can handle Offense (selecting both the Plays and Action cards), while the other can handle “D”.


Four-Player Games


Four-player games (and multiples of four) can be run as above, with both sides having separate offensive and defensive coaches.


Alternately, you can hold impromptu round-robin tournaments: Player A plays one game against player B, while Player C goes head-to-head with Player D, etc.  The winners of each game match up against each other in a second game while the losers compete in a “consolidation” bracket.


Five- or Six-Player Games


You can break this many players into two games of 2 or 3 players each (again with some players splitting up responsibility for offense and defense) and then run a second game consisting of a “winners” and a “consolidation” bracket, as above.


Another option is to play “Tag Team” GFF.  In Tag Team, everybody is in the same game – just not at the same time.  To start off, each player cuts their Offensive Action Decks and holds up the top card.  The player with the highest Referee Alert value takes the field on Defense.  The player with the highest Penalty Risk card takes the field as Offense (draw new cards if no one picks cards with the appropriate symbols).  The two teams play one possession against each other, after which they each “tag” one of the players on the sideline to take their place.  The player on defense always gets to tag first.  (Note, however, that the person he tags will be taking the field as Offense since a drive has just ended.)  Any player who has been on the field for fewer drives than any one else must always be tagged first.  Play continues in this fashion until the number of agreed-upon possessions have been completed.  The team that scored the most points during the game is declared the victor.  If there’s a tie, then they take the field against each other in sudden death overtime.  Does this sound like a free-for-all, or what?  It is.




For many people, League GFF is the ultimate way to play the game.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to start your own League within your regular game group or group of friends.  You can also ask your local hobby or game store if they have any Leagues forming, or you can offer to help start a new one at the store.


League Commissioner


The first step in forming a League is to elect a League Commissioner.  The Commissioner is responsible for:


Establishing overall guidelines for the League.


Establishing a regular season schedule.


Establishing a playoff schedule.


Keeping League records.


Presiding over the draft.


Presiding over any trades.


The League Commissioner may participate in the League as a player or may simply act as an outside moderator.  The Commissioner should, of course, take the wishes of players into consideration when establishing League guidelines.


League Divisions


The initial set of GFF cards provides for 8 different team franchises.  Four of these franchises can be considered to make up a “North” division, while the remaining four make up a “South” division.  Thus an 8-player League is easy to accommodate.  By setting up two different “Conferences,” each of which reuses the basic 8 franchises, a League can be expanded to 16 players without much difficulty.


League Draft


For the League draft, it is suggested that you proceed in rounds, during which each player may choose one Team card.  The order in which players choose their Team cards should be randomly determined, although this may be modified when you are playing a League over multiple seasons.  Remember that there can be no more than one Team cards of any type in use in the League except for special exceptions approved by the Commissioner (this is usually limited to duplicate Franchise cards when more than 8 players are in the League).  Usually, the player who picks last during the first round is given the first pick for the second round.  If the Commissioner allows, players may trade cards for draft picks.


For second seasons, or supplemental drafts, allow the player with the worst record to draft first, and the team with the best record to draft last.


The Commissioner may wish to pull certain cards out of the draft to permit their use by any and all players.  The Corporate Sponsor and Formation cards, specifically, could be made freely available to all players.  Likewise, certain cards may be banned from play.


For the draft, you may wish to have each player supply his own cards (and then he may only draft cards he owns), or you may wish to have everyone contribute cards or money to purchase a set to used for the League.


Trades should be permitted between games, provided the Commissioner approves them.  No trade should be permitted which seems to be overwhelmingly in one team’s favor: do not let one team sacrifice itself for another.  League members can protest any approved trade; a unanimous vote by all teams not involved in a trade should cancel any trade.


Season Schedule


When establishing a regular season schedule for the League, the Commissioner will usually want to ensure that all players in each division (North or South) play against each other at least twice, and that they also get to play the out-of-division teams at least once.  A pre-season of 2-4 exhibition games can be a nice touch, especially if there are beginning players in your League.


Here’s a sample ten-game schedule for an 8-player League:















North A











North B











North C











North D











South E











South F











South G











South H












The Iron Bowl


No season would be complete without a postseason Playoff schedule and, ultimately, a final confrontation between the two best teams – an Iron Bowl.  The Playoff schedule can be established in a variety of ways.  Commonly, however, the top 2 teams in each division (based on their in-division records) will advance to the Playoffs.  Generally, the team with the best overall record plays the team with the 4th-best record, and the top team in the other division plays the 3rd-best team.  The winners of those two games then play in the Iron Bowl.


If you wind up with an odd number of teams in your League, you may need to use a wildcard selection system, perhaps based on the best overall win-loss record among teams not already advanced to the Playoffs.





Update Your Playbook (pg 10)
Draw Action Cards (pg 11)



Activate Team Cards (pg 11)

Choose a Play (pg 11)

Reveal Plays and Determine Advantage (pg 12)

The Dominant Ability (pg 12)

Initial Ability Totals (pg 12)



Improve Ability Totals (pg 13)

Doubling (pg 13)

Secondary Challenges (pg 13)

Legal Improvements (pg 14)

Non-Challenge Actions (pg 14)



Modifying Objectives (pg 15)

Special Results (pg 15)

Injuries (pg 16)



Determine Penalty Risk (pg 16)

Complain to the Referee (pg 17)

Penalty Results (pg 18)





Punting (pg 19)

Field Goals (pg 19)

Touchdown (pg 20)

Safety (pg 20)

Not Making a First Down (pg 20)

Interception (pg 20)

Fumble (pg 21)

End of a Drive (pg 21)