NFL Blitz FAQ by Joshua Harring ([email protected]) Table of Contents I. Intro II. Revision History III. Stuff you need to know IV. Offense V. Defense VI. Situational VII. Conclusion I. Introduction Hello, football fans! Welcome to my FAQ for the best arcade football game currently on the market. It's about time someone made a really great arcade football game. I was tired of seeing them made by Japanese guys who know very little about the game of football (witness Rushing Heroes, Football Fury, et al). My deepest gratitude goes to the folks at Midway. So what's in this FAQ? Basically, it's a bunch of strategies that I have formulated after watching and playing many games of NFL Blitz. Yes, even though this is an arcade football game, that doesn't mean there's no strategy. I was inspired to write this because I was tired of watching player after player do nothing but throw long bombs and blitz everyone every time. So I have come up with strategies that emphasize the primary things needed to win football games, that is, stuff like ball control, coverage, and play selection. All of these strategies are strictly my opinion, so if you don't like them, fine. Everyone is entitled to their own strategy, and in fact I encourage you to invent your own or tinker with mine. I wrote this to help out beginners looking for direction and perhaps give seasoned veterans new weapons in their arsenal. This is by no means the "official" strategy, or that no other is as good. In fact, I still consider myself only an adequate NFL Blitz player (although I am familiar with Madden and all those other great home football games). Once again, you are encouraged to come up with your own game plan. If you need some help getting started though, allow me to try to assist you. II. Revision History Version 1.2 - Added some minor strategies for passing, blitzing, and kick returns, thanks to some thought-provoking questions asked by [email protected] Version 1.1 - Added some strategies for offense, defense, and especially situational. Many situational strategies were sent to me by Miguel Gomez. Also, I forgot to include a whole section I wanted to put in the first release! That section is about when to go for 2, and it's in the Situational section now. Version 1.0 - First release. Many strategies for offense, defense, and situational, as well as the "Stuff you need to know" section. III. Stuff you need to know NFL Blitz is different from most football games. The most obvious difference is the fact that each side has only seven players! And three of those seven players are anonymous down linemen who have little impact on the game. So it boils down to a four-on-four matchup. Note that no one really has a "position" (except for the QB). For example, Emmitt Smith is not strictly a running back, nor is Jerry Rice just a wide receiver. It's more like everyone is just a "player", that is, all the offensive guys can run, catch passes, and pass themselves, and all the defensive players are crosses between pash rushers, linebackers, and defensive backs. Realizing this is important. More differences include two-minute quarters and 30 yards for a first down. If you want to make an analogy between this game and real football, imagine that three yards in this game is one in the NFL. So in this game, third and 15 is kind of like third and 5 in real life. It is quite easy to accumulate yardage in this game, so you'll often find higher-scoring games than those of the NFL itself. Defense takes a backseat in many players' minds, but it is very important. As the old cliche goes: "Defense wins championships." Each team is rated in five categories: Passing, Rushing, Linemen, Special Teams, and Defense. They are rated in these categories on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being best. Using these ratings, the best teams are Dallas, Denver, Green Bay, and New England. Needless to say, they are also the most popular teams in this game (at least around here, they are :) ). On offense, you have two pages of nine plays each to choose from. They all look like passing plays, but some of them have a guy staying behind the line of scrimmage as a kind of "safety" receiver. Note that if someone catches the ball behind the line and then runs upfield, it is a run. When someone catches the ball beyond the line, it is a pass. On defense, there are nine plays, a mixture of blitzes and zones. Unfortunately, I see far too many people blitzing constantly with too many players at once. It is important to follow the play as it is designed. Failure to do so probably will cause you to get burned. You have no control over punts, except choosing to do it, of course. So that means where and how far the punt goes is totally random, which kinda sucks if you wanted to try the "coffin corner" strategy. On field goals, you control only the accuracy by trying to stop a football- shaped icon in the center of a bar-shaped meter. (This is kind of like shooting free throws in NBA Live if you're familiar with that game.) You have no control over kickoffs, and I've yet to see a touchback on a kickoff, so there will always be a kick return. I've never seen a score on a kick return, partially because you'll run out of turbo before you reach the end zone, so don't worry too much about that. To get good yardage on kick returns, sometimes it's better to run straight up the field. If there's a lot of people around, your man will go into the "bull charge" pose, which is effective at knocking away tacklers. And when defending kick returns, the computer is usually very reliable and will run straight up the field, setting him for a head-on diving tackle. IV. Offense Ah yes, that part of the game almost everyone loves, the offense. Spectacular plays, hail mary passes, whatever you will. Sadly, again I see a lot of people trying nothing but those passes. (Forgive me if I'm sounding repetitive.) It is important to realize that a sound running and short passing game is often far more effective than those long bombs. Yes, it may be mundane, but I find it works for me for scoring consistently. One of the dangers of long passes is throwing into coverage. In this game, throwing into coverage often causes the ball to be tipped in the air (in a manner reminiscent of NFL GameDay), up for grabs. Often the CPU will come down with the ball, causing an interception, or they will at least knock the ball away, forcing an incomplete. The best kind of plays to run are those that give you a safety option. What I mean by that is that there is somebody behind the line of scrimmage besides the QB who can bail him out with a short reception if no one is open downfield, or if a hard-charging defensive player is trying to blitz the QB. Such plays as these include "Back Split", "Screen", "Criss Cross", and "Turmoil." You'll notice that Back Split gives two safety options, one to either side. You might also notice that the plays I just mentioned are all on Page 1 of the playbook. I find that knowing just a few plays works well than trying to know all 18. Many of them are similar to each other anyway ("Da Bomb" and "Hail Mary" for example). Of course, you might endeavor to learn more than three, but they are good ones to learn first. When you choose a play, try to choose one that does not have receivers crossing over each other. It is possible to get confused as to which direction to press for each receiver. Also, if receivers are clustered together on one side of the field, it is easier for the defense to cover them, so try to choose a play that has your guys spread out all over the field. Also take advantage of play-flipping. The blue button flips the play, so that a guy who would be running left is now running right, and vice versa. You want to run plays to the wide side of the field, so that a receiver has more room to avoid defenders. Remember that the ball is snapped on the hash mark closest to where the ball carrier was tackled on the previous play (except of course, if he was tackled in the middle of the field). Before you snap the ball, take a second to look over the defense. All teams in this game have the same playbook, so knowing your plays will enable you to identify what type of defense has been called. You can often tell right away if it's a zone or a blitz with man-to-man coverage. Knowing that it is a blitz should alert you to get rid of the ball very quickly, which is why having plays with safety options is important. Also, if you know which man is going to blitz, and one of your receivers will be in his section of field, you can pass to that receiver who will probably be wide open. If it's a zone, your downfield receivers will most likely be covered, and running the ball is a bit more difficult. Running the ball to the wide side of the field in that situation enables you to have a bit more room to avoid, stiff-arm, hurdle, and otherwise bypass defenders. Once you snap the ball, execute the play as planned. If you see a blitz coming, pass to your safety guy. You can also try scrambling to the side of the field away from the blitzer to give yourself a bit more time to spot an open man. If you have time to throw (i.e. no blitz from the defense), look over the coverage and pass to the open man. If no one is open downfield, don't throw it into the coverage and risk an interception. Pass it to the safety option (that's what he's there for). However, you may even find at times that everyone is covered, so in that situation have your QB run the ball himself. Often the defense isn't expecting it and your man can gain decent yardage. This is most effective when the defenders are in a medium-to-deep zone and are far away from the line of scrimmage. The QB can often gain 10-15 yards before a defender is anywhere near him. When controlling the ball carrier, take advantage of the moves at your disposal. In my opinion, the most useful is the stiff-arm. Many times it is effective at throwing off a would-be tackler. It won't always work, but that's okay. When using the hurdle, only use it when defenders are coming up from behind you or you need a bit more yardage to get that first down or touchdown. Don't try to hurdle over someone in your way, it doesn't work. The spin move is also sometimes effective at barrelling through defenders, but it increases the risk of fumbles, so it should be used sparingly. Trying to run around or change direction generally does not work too well in this game, although sidestepping a defender that is charging and ready to do a flying tackle works well if you can time it right. If it turns out that you can't move the ball well this possession and fourth down comes up, don't automatically go for it like so many players do. Instead, assess the situation. If you're in your own territory, punting is a wise idea, even if you only have a few yards to go. Going on fourth down is always a risk and if you fail in your own territory, you're going to leave your opponent with an excellent scoring opportunity. If you're in your opponent's territory, consider the field goal. They are pretty easy to do and three points is always better than none. The times when you might not want to try the field goal is if you have fourth and very short or you're down by a touchdown late in the game. In certain situations, the best thing to do is try to make a long, methodical drive to eat up the clock. You would most likely do this when you are ahead late in the game, or if scoring would put you ahead. For example, if it's 21-21 with 1:30 left and you get the ball, you don't want to score but then leave your opponent with ample time to come back and respond. This is when ball control, and the short game, is important. Don't go for big plays. If you can slowly work your way down the field and score, you're going to put your opponent in a very desperate situation. Finally, mix up your plays! Don't run the same one over and over again. Even the dumbest of opponents would catch on to that. However, it's okay to run the same types of plays (like the short passing ones), since I mentioned earlier that many plays are similar. That way you can use different formations to keep your opponent guessing, especially if you throw in a different type of play every so often (like throwing a long pass after a series of runs). V. Defense Defense is probably the most important aspect of football. It is often overlooked by players who just want to have a wide-open high-scoring game. While it's okay to have a good time, to elevate your game to the next level, you must play great defense. And defense is about more than just blitzing. It's about coverage, showing the QB different looks, and knowing exactly how the play is supposed to be run. One of the most common things I see players do is blitz too much. While it may be exciting, blitzing is a gamble. In essence, what it does is take a defender out of coverage so he can force the QB to make quick decisions. Unfortunately, if he is capable of those decisions, he will most likely burn the other team for a big gain. While an occasional blitz is not wrong, blitzing constantly with too many players at once is wrong. If you're having trouble understanding why blitzing is dangerous (for you), look at this reasoning. You have four defenders. The offensive team has three receivers. That means you have four people to cover three guys. Usually in that case, the QB won't find anyone open, and the play won't get much, if any, yardage. Now look at what happens when you start blitzing. One of the first things to know about blitzing is that you will have man-to-man coverage instead of a zone, so each defender is going to have to follow his man like white on rice. That's not always such a good idea (would you want a linebacker against Jerry Rice?). Blitzing one man makes it three against three. That can be managed, but it's dangerous. Blitzing two men or more automatically puts you at a disadvantage. The offensive team will have more receivers than you have defenders, which means someone will be wide open. If the quarterback sees it quickly enough, you will get burned. Note that one of the plays is a "Zone Blitz" (a current fad in the NFL), but again, it blitzes two guys, leaving you with a two on three. A good play selection consists of zones, and possibly man coverage (without a blitz). "Medium Zone" and "Near Zone" are two of the most effective. "Safe Cover" is another good play. "Deep Zone" is useful for situations where you know your opponent has to make a long pass. "Goal Line" is only useful when your opponent is within your 10 yard line. An occasional "1 Man Blitz" might also be a good tactic, but as I can't stress enough, don't overdo it. When you select your play, follow it as it's drawn up! The biggest mistake I see players make is bringing the guy they're controlling right up to the line of scrimmage before the play to rush the QB when he's supposed to be in a zone. This takes that man out of coverage and leaves his section of field wide open. On zone plays, many times the defender you control is supposed to stand there and read the play as it develops. If a receiver enters your zone, cover him. However you can select plays so that one of the defenders is supposed to blitz. On these plays, bring that defender right up to the line, but a short distance to the side of the linemen. That way, he won't get tangled up with them, and has a clear path to pressure the QB. To successfully cover someone, follow them around as they run their route. If you stick close to them, chances are the QB won't risk throwing into that area. Also, trust that your computer-controlled teammates are doing their jobs as well. After all, you can't control everyone at once. A surprisingly common mistake I see a lot of players make is button- mashing on defense. That's right, button mashers exist outside of Tekken and Virtua Fighter, unfortunately. What they do is suddenly press every button repeatedly when the opposing QB throws the ball. Do you know what this does? It causes every defender to dive, as if making a flying tackle, and therefore they blow all their coverages. That means the receiver will make the catch, be able to run up field, and possibly score by the time the defenders recover. In fact, I see people button-mash when trying to tackle a ball carrier, which is bad because if one guy misses, then everyone else will, too. So the moral of this story is: Do not button mash. Controlled tackling is far more effective. If the ball is thrown in your direction, the most effective way to insure the receiver won't catch the ball is to knock him down. Yes, that's right, pass interference! It's legal in this game. :) Doing this will most likely cause an incomplete pass. You won't get too many interceptions this way, but that's all right because you'll be stalling the offensive drive and they will be forced to try to make big plays to make up for it. If you stick to your man and take him out before the ball reaches him, you're doing your job defensively. Sometimes though, the receiver will still make the reception or one of your teammates lets down his coverage just a little and his receiver makes the play. Don't get frustrated if this happens. There's no way you won't give up any points. But if you consistently make solid defensive plays, you stand a great chance of winning. To give you a sense of perspective, the best defensive player in the arcade I play NFL Blitz at gives up 16 points/game. The best way to take out the ball carrier is to make a diving tackle, but from close range. Make sure you are close to him before you attempt a tackle. Sometimes he will stiff-arm you out of the air. That's all right. Pursue him. Your computer-controlled teammates tackle well in this game so don't worry too much about having to do things yourself. On that subject, don't overuse the Change Player button. It's rare that you will be able to switch to the nearest man and react quickly enough to make a play. Trust your teammates. After all, in the NFL, defense is all about working as a unit and trusting each other. It's the same idea here. Don't be a gloryhound and try to make all the plays yourself. I have found that sometimes the computer makes better defensive plays against itself than humans do! When fourth down comes up for the opposing team, don't assume they'll punt or kick a field goal. Call the defense you would call as if they would go for it. Many times (especially humans), the offensive team will go for it on fourth down, and then wouldn't you be sorry if you called punt return then? Having a normal defense ready is safer. So what if you can't return the punt or block the field goal? It's better than giving up a big play because you assumed something. VI. Situational The following are strategies to use in certain game situations. They are based on time, score, field position, and down. Note that many of these that say `4th quarter' can also be used in overtime as well. Enjoy. Tie Score (or losing by 1-3), Possession, less than 1:30 left in the game: This is a great time to have one of those long drives. Go for a short, safe drive, gradually moving down the field. Aim to get in field goal range. Don't worry if you can't score a touchdown, it isn't necessary. Try to kick your field goal with as little time left on the clock as possible, so that your opponent can't march down the field and score himself. Note that if you're losing by 3 and don't want to go into overtime (and pay more money), go for the TD. Losing by 4-8, Possession, less than 1:30 left in the game: Again, ball control is emphasized, but you need to have a touchdown as your goal, because a field goal does you no good. You might have to take more chances or hope for a big play. If you're losing by 7 and playing against a human, it is NFL Blitz etiquette to go for 2 if you score, rather than forcing both of you to pay for overtime. (There are, however, certain assholes out there who will kick the extra point and force overtime. Gee thanks, buddy.) If you're losing by 8, well, you have no choice but to go for 2. :) Losing by more than 8, Possession, 4th quarter: Score a touchdown as fast as possible, then go for an onside kick. If you don't recover it, try to make a defensive stop. If you do make that stop, follow one of the above strategies for your next possession. Winning by 1-4, Possession, 4th quarter: Go for a methodical drive that scores a touchdown. Not only will you eat up the clock, your opponent will need two scores in a very short amount of time. Winning by 5-8, Possession, 4th quarter: A methodical drive that has a field goal as its first aim. If you can score a touchdown, well, that's cool too. :) Losing by 1-8, No possession, 4th quarter: Make the best defensive stop you can muster and hope that you can get the ball back without your opponent scoring and with enough time to orchestrate a drive. Losing by more than 8, No possession, 4th quarter: Hope for a miracle (or for that computer assistance to kick in). Tied or Winning by 1-3, No possession, 4th quarter: A defensive stop would really be helpful. If your opponent scores a touchdown or field goal, you must come back and score yourself then, and if he has knowledge of ball control, he probably won't leave you with too much time to do that in. If you have confidence enough that you feel can stop your opponent from scoring, try to do so. However, if you don't think you can do it, you might want to let him score. Seriously. If you let him score quickly, you will most likely have enough time to orchestrate your own scoring drive, winning the game. If you're feeling like he can score no matter whether or not you attempt to stop him, chances are you're better him off letting him score quickly. If he's really smart, though, he'd probably do things like jump out of bounds so he can kill more clock. If he is that smart, you might as well attempt to stop him then. Winning by 4-8, No possession, 4th quarter: Your opponent needs a touchdown. Use the same strategy as above. The good thing about letting him score quickly in this case is that you would only need a field goal on your next possession, which isn't too difficult. Of course, if you think you can stop him, go for it! In your own territory, Possession, Less than :30 left in the half or game: Throw a long pass to try to get in field goal range. Once you're in that range, if there is more than :10 left, do some short passes to further advance. Kick the field goal if there is less than :10 left (unless you're within the 10 yard line and think you can make it). Of course, if it's the end of the game and you need a touchdown, go for that instead of just a field goal. Opponent in his territory, No Possession, Less than :30 left in the half or game: Your opponent needs yards, and fast, so play "Deep Zone" and work on stopping big gains. Don't worry if you give up short stuff, it won't matter because there's so little time. Start of overtime, You get the ball: The one thing you should know about overtime in NFL Blitz is that it is not sudden death. It's like basketball overtime. If you get the ball, score as quickly as possible. That way, when your opponent receives the ball and he goes down the field and scores, you probably still have some time to get one more scoring drive in (even if it's just a field goal, that's okay). If you waste time on your first drive, chances are your opponent will come back and score when he gets the ball back, and you'll have to put in more money to play another OT (up to a maximum of 3, fortunately). Start of overtime, Opponent gets the ball: Make a defensive stop if you can. When you get the ball back, try for a ball-control drive that lets you score with not much time remaining. If you stopped your opponent on his drive, you'll take the lead without leaving him any time. If you didn't, he won't have time to come back and score again (in which case you're most likely headed to another OT). 4th down, Possession, In your own territory: Punt. 4th down and short, Possession, Within Opponent's 40 yard line: Going for it is not a bad idea. If you fail, you won't leave your opponent with great field position. Of course, if you're really conservative, you can kick a field goal from this distance. 4th down and long, Possession, Within Opponent's 40 yard line: Kick a field goal in this situation. It's unlikely you'll make the first down. The following situational strategies have been contributed by Miguel Gomez. All of these are when you are on defense. 1st down: Try the play "Safe Cover." It is a play which does man coverage, and has the player you control as a free safety. This defense works because you will have a player near the ball at all times, so the threat of big plays and open passes is reduced greatly. The safety should hang out in the middle of the screen, covering any receivers who happen to break loose in that section of field. 2nd down, less than 15 yards to go: Play "Safe Cover." It only gives up short yardage, so your chances of holding them under 15 yards are good. A zone defense is less effective in this situation. 2nd down, more than 15 yards to go: Play "Medium Zone." Although it gives up some short yardage, there won't be any big plays by the offense, and the whole field is covered. Your intent here is to prevent them from getting the first down, not necessarily from getting any yardage whatsoever. 3rd down, less than 10 yards to go: You have two options here, both of which require you to play close. "Safe Cover" is a good choice here, but instead of having your safety float backwards into coverage, he should play near the line to make a tackle before the ball carrier can cross the first down marker. Your second option is to play "Goal Line." The reason why is as follows: your defensive line will get a good push and will be able to rush the QB with their hands up, causing a lot of deflections, and thus, incompletions. In this defense, you must be comfortable making tackles with the man you control. He should play in the middle, with his feet on the first down line, ready to make a tackle. 3rd down, 10-20 yards to go: Play "Medium Zone." Your defenders will be on or around the first down line, so they can defend passes which are thrown in that range, which will probably happen since the offense will be trying for the first down and probably passing that distance. However, they may try to surprise you by running the ball (maybe even with the QB) so you must remain alert. You might want to bring your man up in front of the first down line before the play begins, because your teammates should cover well. 3rd down, more than 20 yards to go: Play "1 Man Blitz." This forces the QB to throw the ball sooner than he wants to, which is not good for him since he needs to throw deep to get the first down. The man coverage on the receivers causes any pass to be contested, and because the QB must throw quickly, he will only be able to make short passes, most likely causing his receivers to be tackled without getting the first down. 4th down, Goal to go: Play "Suicide Blitz" with one exception. Your man should drop back into a safety role so that he has a chance to tackle a receiver should a pass be completed. However, this is not likely as the QB has a high chance of being sacked or his pass being deflected. If he is lucky enough to complete a short pass though, your man might have enough time to tackle the receiver, unless the offensive team was very close to the goal line to begin with. 4th down, All other situations: Play "Safe Cover." If your opponent doesn't go for it, it won't matter, but if he does, then you have man coverage on his receivers, so a defender will be around the ball at all times. Please feel free to email Miguel at
[email protected]> with your comments on his strategies. When to go for 2: Another thing I see a lot of players do is go for two after every touchdown. This is not a good strategy because going for two is a risk. There are certain situations when going for two is appropriate and when it is not. These situations are based on score. Note that when I say something like "Losing by 1" in the following, I mean that is the differential after the touchdown has been scored and a decision about going for two needs to be made. Tie: Go for 1. It will give you the lead and force your opponent to score. Losing by 1: Go for 1. It will tie the game. If, however, it is the end of the game and you don't want to pay for OT, go for 2. Losing by 2: Go for 2. If you make it, the game is tied. If you don't, you're losing, but that's okay because you would be losing anyway if you only went for 1. Losing by 3: Go for 1. This way a field goal would win you the game. If you went for 2, and failed, a field goal would only tie the game. Losing by 4: Go for 1. A field goal would then tie the game. If you went for 2, a field goal would win you the game if you made the conversion, but if you failed it, you would need another touchdown. Losing by 5: Go for 2. A field goal would then tie the game. If you fail the conversion, you need another touchdown, but you would need another touchdown anyway if you went for 1. Losing by 6: Go for 1. If your opponent kicks a field goal, you are still within one score. Failing the 2 point conversion, and then your opponent kicking a field goal would make it a 9-point game, which means you need two scores. Losing by 7: Go for 1. That way, if you score another touchdown, you only need to go for 1 again to take the lead (because you would be tied). Losing by 8: Go for 1. If you score another touchdown, you can go for 1 again to tie the game. If you tried a 2 point conversion here, and failed, it would force you to go for 2 if you scored another touchdown just to tie the game. Losing by 9: Go for 1. This way you could try for 2 on the next touchdown to tie the game. If you tried for 2 here, and failed, you would need two scores. Losing by 10: Go for 2. You can try for 2 on the next touchdown to tie the game. Going for 1 here does you no good because you'd still need two scores. Winning by 1: Go for 2. That way your opponent would only tie the game if he kicked a field goal. If you went for 1, or failed your 2 point conversion, his field goal would win the game. Winning by 2: Go for 1. Your opponent's field goal would only tie the game. If you made your 2 point conversion, he would need a touchdown, but if you failed it, his field goal would win the game. Winning by 3: Go for 1. This forces your opponent to score a touchdown. Winning by 4: Go for 2. He still needs a touchdown, or 2 field goals. If you make the conversion, his 2 field goals would only tie the game. Winning by 5: Go for 2. That way, his touchdown and extra point would only tie the game. If you went for 1, or failed your conversion, his TD and XP would win it. Winning by 6: Go for 1. Your opponent's touchdown and extra point would only tie the game. If you made your conversion, he would need to also make his, but if you failed yours, he only needs a TD and extra point to win it. Winning by 7: Go for 1. This forces your opponent to score a touchdown and make his two point conversion just to tie it. Winning by 8: Go for 1. This forces your opponent to score twice. Winning by 9: Go for 1. He still needs to score twice, but his touchdown and field goal would only tie it. Winning by 10: Go for 1. This makes your opponent need a touchdown, 2-point conversion, and field goal just to tie it. If you're losing by more than 10, you should go for 2, and if you're winning by more than 10, you should go for 1. VII. Conclusion This FAQ and these strategies were written by me, Joshua Harring. Of course, many of these strategies were originally thought up by the great coaching minds of the NFL. :) I simply borrowed them and adapted them to this game. If you have your own that you would like to add, feel free to email me at [email protected] If it's good, I'll post it and give you credit. Note that this FAQ may not be used for promotional purposes, nor may anyone make any money off of it. You may also not post it on any website unless it is written in its entirety, including this disclaimer, and appropriate credit is given. Many thanks to Jeff Veasey of www.gamefaqs.com for his fabulous work on what has to be the best collection of game FAQs in the world. Copyright 1998 Joshua Harring NFL Blitz is copyright Midway and the NFL.