Ab Initio Games

Retro Interactive Sports, Historical & Sci-Fi Games

Online & Postal Games since 1986

Try a game for free - offer for new players


All the action, no bruises - your chance to be an NFL coach

* Coach your own NFL team from the comfort of your own home

* Compete in a league against other coaches throughout the world

* Play by Internet or Play by Mail - your choice

* Play through full regular season and playoffs

* You call the formations and plays on offence, defence and special teams

* The ultimate in NFL simulation games, running all year round

In Gameplan you are an NFL coach. Every week you have to prepare to face an opponent within your league. You decide what plays and formations to use, when to call them and then watch the game unfold. The best teams during the regular season qualify for the playoffs. As in real-life youíve also got the college draft at the end of the season, giving you the chance to sign new players and replace your fading stars. You choose who to sign, based upon your roster's strengths and weaknesses and the way you want to build your team.

Gameplan is a coaching game. Whilst there is a roster-building element to the game your success and failure will depend upon your ability to choose the right plays to beat your opponent, exploiting his teamís weaknesses and making use of your teamís strengths. Youíll be using an expansive playbook of around twenty offensive formations, forty offensive playcalls (runs and passes) and twenty defensive playcalls.

Gameplan runs all year round - the game isn't a "fantasy game" based on the performances of real life players in the NFL - it's a simulation of how real life Football works - much more involved, and we think, much more fun. Turns are normally run every two weeks to give you plenty of time for planning and analysis.

You aren't playing against a computer - although the game is run on our computers, your opponent is another real-life coach, who's trying just as hard to outwit you as you are him.

How it Works

Team Strengths


Calling plays

Roster management

Game reports

Playoffs and draft

Gameplan Advanced and Basic

Gameplan College Version

Games and Turnfees

Writing Orders/Play by Email

Non-UK Players

How to join


How it Works

You are the coach of an NFL team within a league. You play through a full sixteen game regular season followed by the playoffs and draft. For each game you send in a gameplan to face your opponent for that week. The plays you use will depend upon your teamís strengths and your opponentís weaknesses. You need to use a mixture of plays to keep him off balance, and prevent him from adjusting too much to one or two calls - if you call a play too much his team will start to see it coming!

Gameplan runs all year round - the game isn't a "fantasy game" based on the performances of real life players in the NFL - it's a simulation of how real life Football works - much more involved and much more fun. Turns are normally run every two weeks to give you plenty of time for planning and analysis.

Team Strengths

Each team has around thirty "star" players on its roster. These are basically the starters for your team and represent the cream of your talent.

Your teamís strengths and weaknesses are rated according to your playersí skills, with offensive and defensive players rated in inside running, outside running, short-passing, long-passing and quarterback protection (pass rushing for defenders). There are also special teams ratings for kicking, punting, kick and punt returning. 

Your balance of strengths will probably determine the style of play you use. If youíve lots of inside running strengths youíll probably run a power offence, trying to set up play-action passes to take advantage of the defence looking for the run. If youíve lots of short-passing strengths you may run a more balanced offence, using screens, draws and traps to stop the defence keying on the pass.


The core of the game is the playcalls. These are the plays you use during each game. There are around thirty passing plays and twenty running plays, as well as about twenty five defensive play calls. Combined with twenty offensive formations (which determine who is on the field; one or two running backs, one, two, three or four wide receivers and so forth) there is a huge variety of options for every play during the game.

You decide which play calls to use and when to use them. Your choices will be determined by your team strengths, your perception of your opponent's weaknesses and your own personal preference. As in real-life you'll build up your own playbook during the season.

Teams will often have very different philosophies: some teams are predominantly running teams, passing only as a surprise weapon, while others will pass more often, and use the run to "keep the defence honest". Similar situations apply with defences: some may be aggressive and blitz a lot, others may be conservative and play "bend but don't break". 

Click here to see the Gameplan Playbook

Calling plays

For each game your plays are called according to your gameplan, which has a number of situations: first and second down in field goal range, in midfield and close to your own endzone, short yardage (specialist calls when you only need a yard or two for another set of downs), long yardage (when youíve really got to pass to have a chance of making it), third down and so on. 

In addition youíve got other situations such as change up (after halftime, when youíre losing and need to do something different), change down (after halftime, when youíre winning and want to eat up the clock) and hurry-up (when youíre losing and itís desperate, and you need to score as quickly as possible). Different situations will call for different mixtures of playcalls and formations.

Roster management

During the season you've also got decisions to make concerning roster management. There is always a list of free agents available to be signed, if you can afford them. You can always release players during the season to free up funds to sign others. You can also coach your existing players to improve their abilities. 

You also have to make decisions about team training prior to each game, both in terms of preparation for that week's opponent and also training on your play-calls throughout the season. The most successful teams are not just those who do well during the season, but who improve and evolve as the season progresses, and peak during the playoffs.

Game reports

When you receive your game results you get a play-by-play report of the game youíve just played, showing the play-calls chosen by both offence and defence and the result of the play. In addition youíll receive full stats from your game, full details of all games played in your league that turn and a scouting report for your next opponent, giving more detail of his last game, and the plays he used during that game as well as details of his roster. There are also regular stats listings for all of the teams in the league. 

Normally reports are sent to you by email, so you'll have your result within minutes of the game being played, but players can receive their results by post if they wish. For more details on play-by-email click here.

Playoffs and draft

At the end of the season the divisional winners and wild-cards go into the playoffs, playing to reach and win the Superbowl. Teams that fail to make the playoffs or are eliminated take part in Consolation competitions or play pre-season games to ready themselves for the following season.

During the playoffs all teams participate in the college draft, signing new players and replacing their fading/retiring veterans, whose skills begin to erode and eventually they will retire altogether. Your roster is continually evolving and changing from one season to another, under your guidance.

Gameplan Advanced and Basic

Gameplan has two versions. The original and most complex version of the game is called the Advanced Game. The Basic Game is a simplified version of the original game which cuts out the most complicated sections of the rules. This is the format played by most players, although experience coaches often move up to the Advanced Game later on.

In the Basic Game there are eleven "situations" set out for you, on each of offence and defence. You decide which formation and which plays to call in each situation. 

The Advanced Game takes the process a stage further. You not only call the plays, but you have complete control over when and how to choose the situations in which you call them. The computer goes through an extra step on each down to work out which of your situations applies for that play (according to the down, the score, the time gone in the game and the field position). You can have up to sixteen situations on each of offence or defence.

If you aren't sure which version to start on, then we recommend you start with Gameplan Basic, and then move on to Gameplan Advanced once you've seen the rulebook and if you feel it will suit you best.

Gameplan College Format

Gameplan also runs a college format, with similar rules but a few subtle differences that change the flavour of the game. For more details on the college format click here.

Games and Turnfees

There are over thirty games of Gameplan running in the UK, the oldest having played more than twenty seasons. All run with two week deadlines (so you've fourteen days between turns). The majority are "basic" leagues, though we have a number of "advanced" leagues. We have positions available in most of these games that will allow you to start play immediately (as in real-life, you take over a team and try to turn their fortunes around).

Turnfees in Gameplan Basic are £12.00 for four, £27.00 for ten or £48.00 for twenty. Turnfees in Gameplan Advanced are £14.00 for four, £32.00 for ten or £56.00 for twenty. Click here for more details of turnfees.

We welcome players from outside the UK. Click here for more details of overseas players.  

Game Reports

Normally reports are sent to you by email, so you'll have your result within minutes of the game being played, but players can receive their results by post if they wish. For more details on play-by-email click here.

Sending Orders/Play by Email

Your instructions are normally sent through our active website, but can also be sent by post or fax if required. Click here for more details on play by email

How to join

To join Gameplan you'll need to send £5.00 (payable to Ab Initio Games) along with your name and address, which covers the cost of your rulebooks, team setup and first two turns. When you send in your application please give a number of team preferences (real-life NFL teams, the more choices you give the sooner we can start you playing). We'll normally start you in a Basic game, but you can quickly move up to Advanced if you'd prefer to.

To join the game you need to click here to pay your startup fee by credit card via our secure server website and please also email Danny McConnell with your team preferences (the more the better, real-life NFL teams) then we'll be able to get you started in a game even more quickly. 

For more information please contact: Danny McConnell

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