The theme is ice hockey, the sport where men in padding and large sweaters try to knock each other through the boards surrounding the rink, when what they ought to be doing is combining to seek out and destroy the bastard who spends the entire game demonstrating just how irritating a noise you can get out of an electric organ. Each player, hereafter referred to as a `manager' controls a team, with constantly shifting personnel and the object is to be the first player to score nine wins.
There are three decks of cards -- forwards, defencemen and goalies -- and at any one time each manager has three of the first, two of the second and one of the third. On your turn you may do one of three things: force a trade with a player who you reckon has got a better hand than you, `draft' by discarding a card and drawing a replacement, or challenge one of the other managers to a game. You may not challenge a particular manager for a second time until you have challenged each manager once. The games are resolved by each manager playing their cards, one at a time. Each card/player has a skill rating and the head-to-head match-ups combine to produce a score. For example, if two players who aren't goalies are matched, the higher rated scores a goal, any non-goalie matched with a goalie will see his shot blocked, and so on. It is a quick and entertaining exercise in trying to second guess your opponent, with spice added by the possible presence in the teams of `bruisers' who injure their opposing number, forcing his manager to draft a replacement. For example, you play your star only to discover that he is up against a zero-rated bruiser. He scores, but at great cost to the team and no sympathy from your fellow managers. On the other hand, the opposing thug may enable you to get rid of a useless player that you are delighted to see the back of.
My group like to play a variety of games in a session and it is very rare for them to demand an immediate second game of something, but they did with this one. It really is good fun and the pleasure is increased by the cards, which are beautifully and wittily drawn and all different.