Last updated 19th July 2017
Copyright Hugh Nightingale 2014-2017


Pet-names for PrYc...

 Yc82 - "Airborne" after the 82nd Airborne Division

 Yc54 - "Massachusettes" after the 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War ​  Yc48 "Obedient" after my father's wartime destroyer G48

 Yc42 - "Hitchhiker's" of Guide to the Galaxy fame

 Yc34 - ​"Sweetness" after Walter Payton or "3-4" for Defense

 Yc28 - "A28" after the main road through Kent and Sussex, and my house number

 Yc22 - ​"Two Swans" variation of two ducks in bingo number nicknames 

 Summary of Changes to Full Rules:

 January and March 2017:

​ 1. Section 7.5.4 has been partly rewritten. For the most common interception, beyond the Off 20 and  6-10yards downfield, the return using an ordYc is standardised at the odd in full and even add 50%.  The steps are changed so no longer can even drop back to in full; once odd ordYc are doubled, the  next step for ordYc is to doubled (200%) or doubled again (from 150% to 300%).

 2. There was an error in Rule – for this scenario to occur Off has to suffer at least two A-fouls.

 3. 11.11 and 11.18.2 have been reworded to make clearer.

 4. Section 11.22 has been simplified and reworded. If the GC was running and Off want to use a (non-  CCTO) TO in order to avoid the DoG then the time of this is defined as the STI or RTI of the previous  play, in line with other A-fouls or I-Sub.

 5. 12.3 and 12.6 have been changed in conjunction with 11.22 to improve definition of CCTO.

 6. Section has been rewritten such that if Off is winning in Q4 but not in a position to rush  minus one, he cannot Throw Away on 1st or 2nd Down unless the FGA is almost automatic. That is LofS  Def 1-10.

 7. Section 16.7.3 is introduced limiting use of Yc82 on KOR for both teams after the 2MW in Q2 and  when Off leads in Q4, by 1-7 points between the LFM and 2MW or by 1-3 points after the 2MW.

 8. Section 16.10.9 has been rewritten regarding “spiking” due to a scenario where Off had no TOL but  after 1st Down realised no prospect of improving chance of FG due to Oc held and nearly a minute left.  So if the intended spike is on a 1st or 2nd Down, then Off must use an IE of 10secs.

​ 9. Section 16.11.7 is introduced to avoid the situation where Def can choose order of PInc/Sk  responding to PP in Q4 to minimise the chance of a penalty, particularly Def Order B. It only applies  where one or more Pen? is discarded at the very beginning of Q2 or Q4

 May 2017: Several rule clarifications, rewordings and a few repositioning. The only significant change is  after the LFM. A new OOB sequence can only be initiated under defined circumstances, see Section  16.4.2, although the first play after the LFM may be an OOB pass with PtoWR and Yc6-10 if the  immediately preceding play was by rule before the LFM, by the same team. There is no major change  to the instigation of "hurry-up" after the LFM, but there is now a dispensation for a pass and a Rush Yc1  in either order (see Section 16.10.5)

 July 2017: Several minor rule clarifications



at the 



​Even if you know absolutely nothing about American Football, start by thinking of it as a basically straightforward,
but in detail complex, version of Snakes and Ladders working between 1 and 99 each way! 

2014 - 2016

  • The No.1 Golden Rule.  Avoid an Interception at the LofS.
  • Work on the basis of trying to score at least once in every Q; it can be a winning formula!
  • Use Time-Outs aggressively, more particularly as the visiting team and/or in Q1, and especially when you gain a FD in the vicinity of the Def Red Zone (LofS Def 1-20).
  • A General Rule.  Do I lay a PrYc on a completed pass to WR or TE when there is the possibility of a penalty on the play?  Every circumstance is different but generally it pays to risk with one; never with two or more, provided prospective plays and/or time permit .  Enforced penalties break approximately 50:50 between Offense and Defense.
  • ​Fumble Recovery cards are worth more in Q1 and Q3 with a preponderance of Yc cards, but are priceless in Q4 trying to hang onto a single score lead.
  • Ignoring penalties and after either 2MW, a FGA has at least an 80% chance of success with the LofS inside the Red Zone.
  • ​Aim to use Yc1 in SY situations; not to lose them.  Equally don't be afraid to use them on a return if no other option is available as it can pay to dig deep quickly into Oc, especially in the first half.
  • Look to set up sack-immune situations where possible either with Yc8 and Yc9 or with combinations of small ordYc.
  • Try to avoid turnovers inside your own Red Zone!
  • Plan double-ordYc rushing with care to avoid running low on higher values too quickly.  Lacking a FR the best play can be to defer until out of normal FG range; say around the Off 30...
  • After a PrYc has been halved on a completed pass into Def territory, consider rushing with a middling-high ordYc on the next Down unless distribution dictates otherwise.

​Occasional Tips!

  • ​Yes, I know...  You've played a few Basic games, and now had a go with the Full rules; you've had just one False Start penalty in the whole game, which has been a game of aerial ping-pong between the Punt teams and the score has ended 17-3.  Keep at it!  My experience suggests something interesting crops up at least once in every game and you'll often set some sort of statistical record.  Strange thing is not the Overtime games that are usually the most stimulating; wait until: 
  • you have a three point lead and manage to run the Game Clock (GC) out in one possession for over seven minutes or so.
  • regain an Onside Kick and win the game with a Hail Mary pass with two seconds left on the GC.
  • ​you get a tied Overtime game.  I haven't experienced one yet!
  • ..but I have had a winning FG with just 1sec left on the GC.
  • a missed PAT from what was a tie before the TD allows the other side time to score and win on its own PAT
  • you go for for a TPC trailing by eight points late in the game, make it, recover the Onside Kick and again win on the PAT after a tying TD.


  • ​Go on, go for it! If you don't like an aspect of the game then try an alternative. Occasionally option rules are added. I have also provided three extra Defense and Down Penalty for these are the decks I have mainly tinkered with to a greater or lesser extent over the years. You might like to make a change using the other blanks, especially if you like Short Yardage or like a more dramatic aerial game. It is an educational as well as an entertainment game after all.

Stick at it!

Card Distribution

  • ​If you find shuffling difficult, try with just part of a deck at a time, particularly Offense and Defense decks, then give them a rough mix before dealing.
  • Once the Defense cards have been shuffled, deal them out into two dummy piles and then give them another shuffle.  This avoids "sticky" cards and removes any direct turnover combinations from the previous Q.

Other files you may find useful..

The Packs of First Edition Cards

There are three packs of cards supplied distinguishable by the black, blue and red tear-offs.

Where practical - that is, at least three of each card, these have been spread as equally as possible throughout each pack to ease understanding and keep production costs reasonable.  In order to equalise the number of cards and use up all spaces a number of blank faces are included.

The three top title cards and bottom CE in each pack should be retained as faces include some useful crib information that may avoid resorting to the full rules in some circumstances.  

The second card from the top, a Down Penalty, and second card up from the bottom, a Defense, are blank faced for all three packs.  Apart from a little extra protection to the actual game cards, these are suitable to act as spares or for further trial modifications if required - either by the Designer or end user.

It should then be a straightforward task sorting the five decks starting with Down Penalty (36) and Defense (60).  Offense (64) includes two blank faces whilst Kick Return Penalty and Kick, both 20-card decks include one blank each.

Therefore each First Edition commercial set includes 200 cards for the Full Game, 10 blank faces and three each of top-title and CE making 216 altogether.

Designer's Notes

  • The standard Kick-off is maintained from the 30-yard line.  This is because I happen to like Kick-off returns, it is more straightforward if they are from within the field of play, and there is a much greater range of possibilities of starting LofS.

  • The touchback for a KO into the EZ is also maintained at the Off 20, but there is no reason why you cannot change this to the 25 if you so wish. 

  • The game is unashamedly Pass and Q4 biased as a deliberate attempt to keep as many games as competitively interesting for as long as is reasonably practical.  That said, whilst you most certainly cannot win a game in Q1, bad luck and errors can mean that you get so far behind that it is possible to lose a game before half-time.

  • There are elements of structure/defined plays that a chess player can relate to; there are elements of sequencing that a Rummy card player will recognise and there are opportunities for confusion and deception akin to Poker.  Contract Bridge players may readily relate with tactics in play similar to the finesse and the Duplicate element for Q2 and Q3, which adds an important dimension to the game.  Most importantly the game is intended to encourage thought, and occasionally analyse how an alternative play might have lead to a better result, be it on Offense or Defense.


This game is purely a compromised numerical interpretation, or mathematical model, of the game of American Football for entertainment and educational purposes.  

None of the rules are cast in stone and indeed the ongoing evolution of the sport may result in further changes in the future to more closely resemble the numerical side of the real game.

Indeed, as part of the educational remit of this project, experienced game players are actively encouraged to try out their own variations, perhaps utilising some of the spare blank cards included.

Use of words such as "Illegal" or "Ineligible" pertains purely to the interpretation of a penalty in a particular situation for this game only and has no meaning in the legal sense for any other action outside of the remit of these rules.

About the Game

The Two Minute Warning is a traditional card game based on the NFL rules of American Football.

For an Adobe-format Introduction please click the button:

Two Minute Warning

American Football Game