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Slapshot 2024

Updates and Changes (Version 3.0)

Background

Slapshot has now been running for well over 30 seasons, and I've had a bit of time to review some aspects of the game, and in particular the financial side of things, which isn't something I've had time to do for well over ten years (so apologies that I'm catching up now!), and in fact it seems most of the basic financials were laid down before I even used Excel (which has been an eye-opener, as I've run some rather more recent financial modelling). Ideally, when you're playing a game there are a bunch of decisions to be made - some strategic, some short term, and the more decisions to be made the better, that's what keeps you playing.

If I look at the current financial balance in Slapshot, it looks skewed. Whereas in the games with a similar financial structure (Gameplan Baseball and Hoopplan) merchandising can be used to offset some of the LP gap by winning games (typically a maximum of 25-38%) in Slapshot a team (albeit once they've reached the maximum investment) can actually use merchandising and fans to offset this completely, which makes it somewhat uncompetitive (which benefits no-one). Fans also shows a significant divergence (exponential growth to use a phrase currently in the media) depending on success, which needs to be reduced.

I also don't want to introduce anything that might upset people but having done some extensive testing and modelling I think the game will be better for these changes. 

 

Changes

The changes which follow are now referred to as Version 3.0 of the game. These changes are in three groups below, which are as follows:-You will now see the changes in three groups below, which are as follows:-

Immediate - these changes are in play now, so regardless of where your league is at, they're happening.

2024 rules - these changes come into play at the end of the playoffs. Note that quite a few of them don't apply until the end of that season (in particular the increased reduction in Stadium, Trainers and Minors). I'm not expecting to vary these, but don't be surprised if you see the odd tweak if I think it's the best thing for the game.

Backlog - these are changes which are possible for the future at some point, whether it's because I'm thinking about them, they're more complex to add, or waiting on current changes to see how they pan out. Please don't bug me about when and whether they'll come in, because I probably won't have an answer.

 

Immediate

Rookies and Sophomores (immediate for newly created players) - this won't be visible, but I've reduced the value of rookies and sophomores, so effectively their wages will also be cheaper. See above for the rationale. This will also encourage teams to promote them to the active squad, as they'll be worth slightly less to waive. You may also see some players now on the draft list with a value below 10 LP. This change will be applied immediately for any newly created players, so it affects draft lists going into the new rules.

Draft List (immediate) - I've also made a tweak to the draft list so the third round (in particular) will be slightly stronger (i.e. there's more depth in the draft list). You'll also notice it's now sorted according to the players' Trade Levels (and managed to squeeze in displaying it), rather than Level and Value - this is purely cosmetic, but will ensure that players with higher potential are shown higher up the list. The list is now sorted by Trade Level, then Level, then Potential and then Value. 

Free Agent List #1 (immediate) - you'll also see the Free Agent list is busier, especially early in the season. Players without potential will spend less time on it, but you'll also see more low value players coming onto the list (and being replaced again) to help teams manage any holdout problems. As the season progresses, you will still see fewer players on the list. 

Merchandising #3 (immediate) - when calculating Merchandise sales, any fractions have a chance of being rounded up. e.g. if you'd be due to sell 1.4 units of merchandising then you're still guaranteed to sell one, and have a 40% chance of selling a second. The change ensures even the smallest investment in merchandising can make a difference.

Uncoached Teams (immediate) - I've also been reviewing the routines used by uncoached teams, to try and make them a bit more competitive or at least viable if a new player does turn up. I won't comment on those changes, as you shouldn't know what they are! Unfortunately, whether we like or not, we have uncoached teams, and there's no real source of new players nowadays (feel free to introduce anyone you can). You can expect to see (or already have) the teams busier in the free agent markets, and hopefully dealing with holdouts better.

New NHL Teams (immediate) - I'm not proposing to move to 32 teams (finding enough players is a challenge without expanding) but I will look to make available the two expansion teams (Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken) to new players, as well as using the renamed Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks.

Unnamed Players - it'll take best part of ten years to really feed in, but I've added a lot of new "default" names for players. I probably can't ever do enough, but at least you'll see a bit of variety in names of players going forwards.

Preseason Free Agent List (immediate) - wading through the code I discovered that a "hidden feature" of the game was that a free agent who had been on the list for some weeks at the end of the previous season (and probably about to give up, and announce their retirement) in Slapshot would not only come back onto the list at the start of the new season, but with their "give up counter" reset. That's pretty dumb, in the six months of off-season they're more likely to have decided to pack it in. Going forwards, when the free agent list re-appears in pre-season, expect to see some of those veterans having retired (that was already in place) but plenty more of them announcing they're about to (i.e. sign me this time, in pre-season, or I'm done). It has the added benefit of clearing spaces on the free agent list for players about to be waived (see above).

 

2024 Rules

Reserve Squad (2024 rules) - similar to Gameplan Baseball, the Reserve Squad will be expanded to four spaces. This will give teams more scope to develop rookies. The first season, the lowest value of the draft picks would be automatically moved to the Reserve Squad.

Note - the lowest value draftee is selected to minimise the impact of this change on the change whereby draft squad players are not paid for the first three quarters of the season (see below). It's a "first season only" change, but it means the lowest value draftee is the one forced onto the reserve squad, and consequently has to have their wages paid from the start of the season.

Rookie Wages & Draft Squad (2024 rules) - at present, a team gets pretty much forced to make decisions about draftees at the start of the season, and with veterans often asking for more wages, it's a real challenge to avoid multiple holdouts, and draftees have to be thrown into the active squad to survive (or sink). 

To reduce the impact of this players on the draft squad will only be paid half wages until the final quarter of the season (week 13 onwards). This also is a bit more realistic - in the NHL draftees rarely make the major league roster in the first season, so giving a coach half of the season to make a decision makes sense. Of course, if you want to use that player you'll need to promote them (and then start paying wages) or you may choose to release them (to get income in). 

Additionally, players on the draft squad will be considered as playing in the minors, so will pick up form each week (similar to if they were on the reserve squad). All of this should give rebuilding teams more chance to "develop" players before moving them up to the majors.

Holdouts (2024 rules) - it'll be a rare occurrence, but it seems a bit of a loophole that a team can run with holdouts throughout the season, and then when the playoffs arise, the holdouts are available. We will bridge this gap by introducing a rule whereby if any player was holding out in week 15 (the last week holdouts are possible) then they'd stay holding out throughout the playoffs (even if a team managed to source LPs in week 16).

Free Agent List #2 (2024 rules) - We'll remove the feature whereby a "new" (i.e. not waived from a squad) Free Agent has a "previous team" assigned. It's not really fair that some teams luck out and get a good player, and others don't, and there are plenty of sources for clubs to find players.

Veteran Assessment (2024 rules) - there's now a chance that a player with Potential of ten or more will convert two points of potential in the end of season assessment. Their potential drops more quickly (obviously) but the skill gains will also be higher. This is more likely the higher the player's potential.

No Free Agency if Released (2024 rules) - At present, a lot of older players get marked for immediate deletion when they are released (via a free agent bid, or a promote action) which somewhat clogs up the list (albeit only for a turn). In future, at the end of season assessment, any player with zero potential will make a decision about whether they would be a free agent if released, or simply retire. If they will chose to retire, then they'll be shown with a * after their age on the Team Report. 

This doesn't mean you have to release these players, and you may want to keep them for many seasons, but if you do release them, then they won't be added to the free agent list, they simply retire. Equally, if a player isn't marked as No Free Agency, that doesn't mean when they hit the free agent list they won't be marked for immediate deletion (but of course it does give other teams the chance to sign them).

Free Agent Bids (2024 rules) - it's a minor change, but if two teams bid the same amount for a player, then the bid that wins is the team with the worst record, rather than the best record. This is in line with the process when a player is claimed off waivers (and again, gives struggling teams a slight boost).

TV Income (2024 rules) - the basic income in Slapshot is 55 LPs per turn (plus 4 LP per loss). We'll change the terminology to "TV Income" (which is realistic) but it would become slightly variable. Initially this will start at 60 LPs (plus 4 LP per loss), the addition of an extra 5 LP will somewhat offset the changes to merchandising and fans (as well as Minors being introduced) but going forwards, each season it could increase (or decrease) by up to 2 LPs, subject to a minimum of 55 LPs and a maximum of 65 LPs. 

This provides two new nuances - first of all, at the start of a new season every team might find they have 2 LP less (or more) to pay salaries than they expect (or other sources of expenditure) and second, different games might end up with quite different thresholds. It'd be subtle, but for players in more than one game, you'd have slightly different challenges.

End of Season Carryover (2024 rules) - rather than a fixed cutoff (and being consistent with Gameplan Baseball), a team only loses half of its LPs if it is over the end of season threshold of 100 LPs (e.g. a team with 120 LPs would lose ten, and start the new season with 110 LPs). 

However, if a team has more than 200 LPs, then three quarters of that excess over that 200 LP is lost (e.g. if a team has 240 LPs, they would start the new season with 160 LPs = 100 + (50% of 100) + (25% of 40)).

As a consequence, the end of season routines which automatically spend any excess will be removed (relying on you to sort them out).

These changes are intended to discourage teams from saving up LPs for a new season, though if they do have excess numbers they will keep some of them. With the addition of Minors, there's plenty to invest in if a team isn't having a good season.

Merchandising #1 (2024 rules) - merchandise sales will be changed, so that a team sells 1% per win for the first 100 LPs invested, and then 0.5% per win for any merchandise over 100 LPs. e.g. 3 wins and 180 LPs would garner 3% of 100 (=3) and 1.5% of 80 (=1.2). This brings Slapshot into line with Gameplan Baseball, and means merchandising does what is meant to do, and does not enable a team to completely offset their basic income. I am aware this has quite a lot of impact to teams used to running with big merchandising totals. 

Merchandising #2 (2024 rules) - rather than carry over the full amount each season, a team would carry over 80%. Marketing departments do launch new stuff, and "end of line" sales are not uncommon. This means you'd have a decision each season about whether you can afford to top up merchandising. However, half of the cost of the "end of line" merchandising is recouped in an end of season sale (these LPs do not affect the end of season carryover). This change would only apply at the end of the first season under the new rules.

e.g. a team finishes the season with 160 LP in merchandising. 20% of these (32 LPs) are lost at the end of the season, but the team does gain 16 LPs for the new season (so they start the new season with 128 LP in merchandising, but their LP balance is 16 LP higher). These sales LPs are not considered as part of the end of season LP carryover routines, so you can carry over 100 LP as per above, plus any income from the merchandising end of season sales.

Stadium (2024 rules) - the season decline would be increased from 2 levels to 3 (following feedback, there's no random element). This reflects the changes required due to technology changes (bigger TV's, etc etc). This change would only apply at the end of the first season under the new rules. The current level of Stadium is not a factor in the reduction amount.

Fans #1 (2024 rules) - the increase in fans will be changed from 1% base plus 1% per win, to 2% base plus 0.4% per win (and 0.2% per tie). This will reduce the discrepancy between unsuccessful and successful teams (at present it's too high) but still means teams have more income at the back end of the season, when they can make decisions about whether to go for free agents who may make a difference in the playoffs, or focus on longer term projects (players or minors).

Fans #2 (2024 rules) - instead of resetting all teams to 9000 (very samey, with a few exceptions) the fans would be reset to 9,000 plus 10% of the previous season's total fans (so a team with 12000 previously would be reduced to 10200). This gives a bit more variation and also means most teams will start with a higher base than currently (somewhat offsetting the new percentage changes in Fans income). This change would apply for leagues going into the new rules, with the exception that if any teams have more than 22500 fans prior to carry over, the "old" 50% reduction is applied (essentially your fans are recalculated according to whichever option gives the highest carry-over). This only applies at the start of the first season under 2024 rules, then it is the new 9,000 plus 10% for all teams.

Trainers #1 (2024 rules) The annual reduction in Trainers is increased from dropping two levels per season to three levels. Additionally, the maximum level will change to be 15, although for the first season under 2024 rules, it can be 18 (so a team on 20 would decline to 18, and then to 15).

This will force teams to make decisions about re-investment, and it's not realistic to assume physios and sports scientists are quite that loyal!  This change would only apply at the end of the first season under the new rules.

Trainers #2 (2024 rules) - An additional "check" will be added each turn, with a chance that the team avoids any injury. The higher the level of trainers, the higher the chance. Expect to start to see teams, on occasions, avoiding the "weekly injury".

Minors (2024 rules) - As with Gameplan Baseball, Minors will be introduced into Slapshot. The maximum level is 15, and the costs are the same as for Stadium developments. The better your Minors level is, the more form your players on the Reserve and Draft squads will accumulate. The season loss of Minors would be three levels. It starts at 0.

Addform (2024 rules) - I was slightly surprised to find this wasn't in Slapshot already. As with Gameplan Baseball, a special action ADDFORM can be used to increase the form of one player for up to three weeks. The cost is 1 LP per week (so ADDFORM 49 3 increases the form for player 49 for 3 weeks, at a cost of 3 LP). If a player is struggling for form, you can use this to help boost them, and of course that may help for young players with potential you are keen to develop.

Promotions and Releases during the Draft (2024 rules) - at present, you can Promote (only to the reserve squad) or Release a player whilst the draft is still going on, which is a bit strange. The change will now prevent this until the Preseason turn.

Scouting Reports (2024 rules) - we'll introduce into 2024 rules scouting reports. They're pretty simple, you get a one page summary of the player stats for each of your opponents (basically a copy of the second page of listings for your team is sent to your opponents - minus the depth charts section). It's five (usually) extra pages of listings, but as pretty much every player gets reports by email, it's up to you whether to print them off. It might make keys a little easier to determine week to week. If you play a team twice during the same week, you'll only get one scouting report (for obvious reasons).

Renaming Players (2024 rules) - I've been pondering this for some time. We've always had a restriction that you cannot rename players during the season, to avoid confusion for other coaches when looking at rosters (in particular for keying players). Now we have scouting reports, we can relax this and allow renaming of players during the season. 

TeamAttack (2024 rules) - This is a new special action, and would be used to change the Attack-Defence ratings for ALL players on a squad (e.g. TeamAttack 1 would increase them all by one). The values allowed are -2, -1, 0, 1 and 2 (though 0 is pointless!). The players are still subject to the minimum of 1 and maximum of 5 individually. The action would be processed before any individual player parameters are updated (so you could add 1 to all players, but then change a bunch of individuals accordingly. This is probably most pertinent for the playoffs (when you have the same opponent), and players would still be subject to the 1-5 individual range limitation (so if you did TEAMATTACK 2 to a player already on 4, they'd only increase to 5).

 

Backlog

Salary Cap - I'm not proposing to implement a Salary Cap into Slapshot at the moment, but it is at the back of my mind. Hoopplan has one, which does work reasonably well, and the NHL have adopted one since Slapshot was launched. I think there are enough changes here for the moment, and part of the idea behind the revised financials is to effectively create a more even field rather than having to rely on a cap.

Game Processing - I'm also not looking (at least at the moment) at game processing, and how that works. So not thinking about 3 v 3 in overtime and the like, though never say never........

Comments

Please feel free to drop me any thoughts on this. All of the changes are intended to add a bit of variety, without fundamentally changing the ethos of the game, which is a mixture of roster building and in game strategy. However, they are overall intended to reduce the discrepancies in income, and make it a bit harder for the successful teams to stay at the top, and enable the less successful teams to at least have the tools to catch up (if they know how).

It's also an acknowledgement that times have changed - when I started Slapshot we had lots of players, and were pretty much cutting edge in terms of sports simulation games. Now we're very much in a "retro niche", with online games and the like much more prevalent, so there's a bit of cloth cutting, and these changes are intended to help make the game a bit more interesting, without breaking what (for those of you who are playing) is clearly still working..........

 

Last updated: Wednesday March 20, 2024 19:15  

For more information please contact: Danny McConnell

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