If you’re a die hard hockey fan then you’ve been consistently disappointed with the genuine lack of titles for the PC. Outside of the EA branded game, there’s a huge lack of good old fashion games for puck fans and especially of the fantasy hockey league variety. There’s a small community on the net that’s amongst the most passionate that any title out there sees – all in the form of FHL Sim. The game is a fantasy hockey league simulator that is designed for managing a hockey league on the internet.
The simulator comes with many different features:
Create a league from scratch using draft tools or use other people’s league files. Draft players imported from a simple text file, so commissioners can add as many names as they see fit. An annual draft list will also be provided.
Text lines submissions via email supported.
Integrated entry draft. Includes a lottery for non-playoff teams.
Determines free agents, with user defined conditions for restricted and unrestricted free agency. Program allows outputting of current free agents.
Easy annual update of player ratings. Player databases easily imported and updated without league re-creation. At the click of one button, players will be updated using the new ratings and any prospect players who appear in the new database will automatically be added to the appropriate roster.
Option to protect players for an expansion draft. A list of unprotected players can then be generated.
Leadership and experience ratings which affect player morale and performance under pressure.
Keeps track of draft picks, all nine rounds, six years into the future.
Keeps track of prospect players who can be automatically added to the regular roster when they appear in the master player database.
Complete editing of player info, including salary, birthplace.
Game Play Base your teams on real or imaginary players rated in over 16 categories. (need to link to the faq on what all the categories are: Intensity, Speed, Strength, Endurance, Durability, Discipline, Skating, Passing, Puck Control, Defence, Scoring, Experience, Leadership, Height, Weight and Shooting hand.)
Coach ratings in four categories: Offence, Defense, Experience, Leadership.
Detailed financial management tools, based on revenues and expenses based on ticket sales, team performance, salaries, projected budgets, and cash trades.
Player suspensions for excessive penalty minutes or causing injury.
Realistic injury system based on player Durability rating.
Players do not receive a set number of injury days. Instead they are listed as Day to Day, 1-3 weeks, etc. Players then recover at different rates, according to their DU rating. That way you don’t know exactly how many games a player will miss. In fact, if you have enough off days, he may not miss any games at all!
Statistics Detailed boxscores including penalty names, fight results, game highlights, and individual player stats (including ice time).
Tracks rookies and rookie scoring leaders.
Detailed team statistics including PIM, Shots For/Game, Shots Against/Game.
Multiple team statistics. When players are traded FHL tracks stats on the new team while storing old stats.
Active Farm League. FHL will generate standings and scoring leaders for players who are placed on the farm rosters.
Detailed player info, including height, weight, age and contract length.
is it realistic?
Although there are many hockey simulators out there, many are of the “I did this for my college project…” variety and offer a very minimal level of realism. Through many seasons of simulating, and eventually running an entire season at a league I started myself (the ExTreme Championship Hockey League) I was able to create a very realistic simulation league by using the tweaking bars. These bars allow for all sorts of adjustments in the different aspects that the game has to offer – like scoring, shooting, penalties, and the like.
I have to say that if you find the right roster files that properly reflect the aspects of play in their real-life NHL counterparts, the closeness to believability is astounding.
a sense of community
The level of support for FHL Sim is second to none. At the main website for the game (click here) there is a message board that seems to be frequented by hundreds of die hard fans of this title. Topics range from tech support, to modding the game (such as what I did by integrating the output into PHP and MySQL), to people looking and starting new leagues. It seems that this is the core hub where true die hard hockey fans gravitate to – something that the internet has made possible.
I can’t underscore how crazy it is to meet other passionate fans of hockey and get together in a league to all enjoy our mutual interest of the sport. People talk trade, talk smack back and forth, and really develop a kinsmanship that is rarely seen with other sports simulators.
It’s also a blast to manage your rosters, set lines of your favorite players, and set them all into motion to see if you can win the stanley cup.
Graphics & Sound
It’s important to know that FHL Sim is a simulator only – the graphics are functional and let you know what you need to do and there is absolutely no use for sound in the game.
After playing with FHL Sim for 4 months now, I’ve come to realize that there’s some really fantastic things about this title that definitely warrant the $25 purchase price. First, the simulator is very realistic and easy to use. This isn’t a title that you’ll be rolling through the pages of the manual … although there are some glitches with the game (such as the entire game crashing if someone has lines incorrectly filled out), the charm of the game makes up for what it lacks.
Perhaps the best feature of the game (outside of the realism of the simulator) is the ability to run a league over the internet. A “GM Utility” is included and available for download (free) for people to send in line-ups and manage their rosters. The league commissioner then simply hits the “Auto Update Lines” button and it’s all taken care of. The HTML auto-output is a very nifty feature that makes running these league very easy for any internet/webmaster novice.
If you’re looking to start a fantasy hockey league, there is simply no finer program out there than FHL Sim. That being said, the program is only on edition 1.5 and a 2.0 version of the program should yield a much better product. If you’re looking to be in a fantasy league, then I’d highly suggest taking a look at the boards on FHLSim.com and seeing what’s available as spots seem to open up here and there all the time. Eventually, you’ll be craving your own league, or at the very least, running your own statistical simulations using the program to see if that big trade will work out for you.
Overall, FHL Sim is a fun program, and the one to buy if you are at all interested in fantasy hockey leagues. There’s an intangible charm to the game that comes from the communal feeling you get from participating or running a league. For $25 it’s definitely worth the purchase … and for those of you interested, I’ll be working with a few people to release the popular PHP/MySQL pack for this title, just check the ExCHL main page.
OVERALL SCORE: 93%