Price:£20, £15 or £10 depending on package.
Private Leagues: Yes
* The original Fantasy Football Game
* Clean and simple scoring rules
* Private league option (5-16 managers required)
* Premier League competition with 20 strangers, for all registered teams
* FA Cup, Premier League Cup and European competitions are included
* New “Raise the Bar” mini-competition
* Relatively expensive
* Unlimited subs can create a divide in your private league between hands-on and casual managers
* Unlike other Fantasy League games, there is no player auction
* Not as much fun if you’re playing in a league with strangers
The “Classic” version is a purely online version of the Fantasy League Ltd game in which managers can register a team and pick a squad of 16 players from the available player list with a set budget of £75 million. Once underway, teams have 25 transfers, limited to 5 per month. You also get unlimited substitutions and access to the “Supersub” system that allows you to swap players out for individual fixtures in advance.
The Fantasy Leauge Ltd scoring system is the simplest around. Players earn 3 points for a goal and 2 for an assist. Goalkeepers and Defenders (split into full-backs and centre-backs) earn a point for appearing on the pitch for 45 minutes, 2 additional points are earned for a clean sheet (provided they play at least 75 minutes) and one point is lost for every goal conceded.
Fantasy Leagues’ Classic game is their popular, no-fuss option. It does away with the need to elect a chairman to administer league rules, and managers don’t have to meet up or conduct a player auction online. You simply register, select your team and join the league you and your friends have set up. In fact, it’s very much in line with the host of online Fantasy Football games out there, although being a Fantasy League game, you pay more get many more options and features for your registration fee.
Typically for Fantasy League, there are 3 distinct packages available. All 3 offer entrance to the overall season competition against all registered players, plus all 3 offer the opportunity to set up a private “Friends and Enemies” league with an FA Cup competition in which your team will score points from real-life FA Cup games effectively an additional mini-league for those teams in your private league.
With the Gold (£20) and Silver (£15) packages you get unique Gold and Silver national championships, along with increased prize money, plus a raft of extras including weekly team reports and live points updates. The standard package at £10 seems a more likely choice however, as the fee is comparable to other games out there, and you can easily do without the extras that Gold and Silver bring.
An excellent bonus added this season by the Classic game to all packages is that every team registered automatically gets entered into a Premier League of 20 managers. This enables solo players, without the numbers to form a private league of their own, to compete in a league format. These might be complete strangers of course, but it does add far more interest to solo play. This Premier league then splits off into national European knockout tournaments in November, with team position dictating which tournament you qualify for and various prize money available to the tournament winners. It’s an excellent touch which gives even struggling managers something to strive for.
Firstly all registered teams are placed into a Premier League of 20 teams that registered around the same time and this effectively becomes a mini-league that solo players compete in. Your placing in this Premier League in November then determines your qualification for a series of extra tournaments labeled Champions League, UEFA Cup, Intertoto Cup, Safety-Zone or Relegation. These provide even further tournaments for the solo player to compete in. There are prizes for each tournament and medals for the top placed sides in each Premier League.
On top of this, this season the Fantasy League have introduced a new “Raise The Bar” mini league. Raise the Bar begins in February for all registered teams. Effectively this involves a weekly points target being set with teams eliminated if they fail to reach the set tally. The remaining team/manager with the highest points tally in that tournament walks away with a grand. Finally teams are all entered into the FA Cup competition, plus of course you’re competing for the £10,000 for the overall season winner.
Once underway, the game offers 25 transfers, limited to 5 per month. Substitutions however are unlimited. Here lies the one major flaw when it comes to your private league. Active managers can effectively change their team prior to each set of fixtures within the same gameweek. So, I can pick a team for the early kick off on Saturday, change it again before the 3 o’clock kickoff and again for the Sunday games and so on. With a squad of 16 to shuffle, this can clearly give me an advantage if I’m willing and able to put the time in each week. Managers who are perhaps less committed or have restricted access to the internet, are therefore less likely to change their lineup so frequently and can therefore fall behind. A automated “Supersubs” system does allow managers to set these substitutions up in advance but again, this is still something that needs regular attention if you are to prevent your team from falling behind. Effectively this emphasises the divide between the casual and active managers in your private league which isn’t ideal.
In the Premierhship Pro game from Fantasy League, this isn’t such a drawback. Indeed, a Pro Game private league has the option for the Chairman who to disable substitutions during a gameweek once the fixtures have got underway to eliminate this issue. Ironically, if you’re playing a Pro league, it’s likely that all the managers involved are committed on a similar level (given that they’ve all coughed up £26 or more) so it may not be a major issue anyway. One of the reasons for choosing the Classic game however, is that you may not have a full league of hands-on managers. Therefore, the fact that casual players can be left behind by the freedom of substitutions within a gameweek, is actually far more of an issue in this game type. In other words, the Classic game is crying out for the option to disable the frequency of substitutions once a gameweek is underway.
This issue, along with the price per team, may be enough to have you look elsewhere for an alternative for your private league and ironically the free Mail Online game, a game that licenses the Fantasy League system and therefore uses the same scoring system, is a likely alternative. Obviously you don’t get the bells and whistles and the cup competitions but if the managers in your league want these, perhaps it makes more sense to find the extra cash for the Pro or Auction games available at Fantasy League in order to get even more options and flexibility.
The Classic game seems to adopt a middle ground between the Pro game and the game offered at the Mail Online and while it is a great option for solo managers looking to fight it out with in a league of strangers, given the price, it’s not quite the perfect choice for your private league.