The Rules

This is a play-by-email simulation of an Australian Rules Football league. It is not a fully-modeled re-creation of the real sport and never will be. Beyond the basic concepts of Aussie Rules, it is best not to get reality (or any other form of fantasy AFL you may have played) confused with what you're about to experience.

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Every coach has a team and every team has players. In AFEL, despite the delusions of certain coaches, players are not real people - they are a string of numbers in a spreadsheet. Players in AFEL are represented by numbers. Despite many attempts by them to become real people, they are, in fact, abstract representations on a spreadsheet. Some of these numbers are shown to managers, some are not. Some are directly involved in the playing of games, some are not. What follows is a rough guide. All of these attributes are stored in the spreadsheet as real numbers, but are displayed on team pages as rounded full numbers. Thus an attribute of 5 may represent an actual attribute of anywhere between 4.5x and 5.4x.

Visible Attributes

  • Possession Gathering (PG) - This covers getting the ball. That means being in the right place at the right time. It's reading the play. It's putting the effort in for one-on-ones. It's crumbing the packs and it's having the speed to get to the ball first. It's a lot of things, but it's not defending.
  • Goal Kicking (GK) - This is simply the ability to kick the ball straight between the posts. It covers technique and mental fortitude. It also deals with freakish ability to kick the ball over your head with accuracy when the need arises.
  • Marking (M) - Catching the ball. Whether it is low and close to the ground, right to the chest, or needs some soaring action, this is the skill. It also covers a ruck's duties.
  • Defending (D) - This detracts from the opponent getting the ball in the ways described in Possession Gathering. Defending covers beating a player to the ball, blocking passing lanes, and reading the play.
  • Stamina (S) - This determines how well a player can handle the rigours of playing a full game of football. Players fade as the game goes on; those with higher Stamina will fade less. This has nothing to do with injuries.
  • Leadership (L) - The ability of a player to influence those around him. This is vital for a captain, vice captain, and deputy vice captain. These players must be ready to take on the responsibility of inspiring the team on the field.
  • Age (A) - This is a representation of the player's actual age. It goes up by approximately one every season. It does not affect game day. At the end of the season, players will find their attributes go up or down based on age.

All visible attributes except age have an absolute maximum of 12, but see the discussion of potential below.

Players need different high attributes to play well in different positions. Good forwards primarily need a high GK, good defenders need high D, and so on. You'll learn with time what works best for each position.

Players can be played in just about any position on the field with one exception: the ruck. Players with an (R) after their name are able to play as the ruckman without penalty. Players without an (R) play in the ruck at about two-thirds effectiveness.

Invisible Attributes

  • Potentials - Each of a player's Visible Attributes except age has a maximum, locked in from the day they're drafted and never to change throughout their career. This may be the full 12 or it may be a lot lower (as in life, it's a rare AFEL player who can be very good at one thing, let alone many things). Scouting reports will help you over time to get a feel for what a player's potential is in every attribute, otherwise you can just guess by watching the effects of training and aging. Unfortunately not all AFEL players are blessed with the ability to reach the fabled 12 rating in an attribute. There is a ceiling for each attribute that can only be guessed at by carefully watching the effects of training and aging. This ceiling never changes.
  • Injury Proneness - Some players are simply more likely to get injured than others. This score may be guessed by watching which players are injured more often over a period of time. This score may be increased after a major injury or with age, but it will never go down.
  • Aggression - Footballers can be an ugly lot and I don't mean like the Daniher family. Some players just can't manage their inner Barry Hall and are simply going to be visiting the tribunal more often than others over the course of their career. This attribute may be guessed at by watching the suspension list over time.
  • Form - Form is actually a semi-visible attribute, represented on team pages with plus or minus signs as a guide. Players with plus signs will play with slightly improved visible attributes and the opposite for those with minuses. A single plus sign could be worth from a quarter of a point to half a point added, while a double represents more than half.

Lineups are submitted weekly using your team's online lineup editor. Email submissions will only be accepted if you've sent the Commish a large package of Cadbury chocolate ahead of time. - Seriously.

Lineups are to be submitted each week before 11am on Saturday (Australian Eastern time zone, standard or summertime). That equates to Friday night USA time depending on the time zone and daylight savings. As one cannot predict the reliablity of the internet, it is generally better to send in one's lineup sooner rather than later.

The stats used by the lineup editor are updated regularly after the previous week's games have concluded. Using the editor will make it practically impossible to select players who are suspended, not on your list, or not even in existence.

Missed Deadlines

When a lineup is not received in time for games to be run, the AFEL Auto-Lineup spreadsheet shall be used to build a lineup. As the Auto-Lineup spreadsheet is not the most brilliant thing ever devised, it is best to submit a lineup.

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Lineups aren't just about putting players in positions. Coaches must also nominate a series of tactics for their team that influence how the team "plays". In reality, tactics operate by modifying the attributes of each player in a manner reflecting that style of play.


  • Central (ce) - Players will be trying to deliver the ball to the Full Forward and Centre Half Forward as often as possible.
  • Spread (sp) - Players will be looking down he flanks for options - flanks and pockets will see a lot more of the ball than normal.
  • Chip (ch) - The ball will be passed around the the forward line without much priority, rather looking for the best option at goal.


  • Wing (wi) - The ball will be delivered down the wings, rather than utilizing the central players.
  • Middle (mi) - The wing players are used to supplement a strong core midfield.
  • Forward (fo) - Many of the midfield players will be slipping forward to try to add to the scoring options, slacking off on their defensive duties.
  • Flood (fl) - Many of the midfielders flood the defence trying to clog it up, making it difficult for the opposition to get open scoring options.


  • Man (ma) - The defenders concentrate on their man, trying to beat him at all costs.
  • Zone (zo) - Defenders are looking to defend their area, often using their skill at reading play to cut off delivery of the ball.


Each game, a coach may choose one player to "tag" an opposition player. This simply means he matches up against that opponent, no matter where on the ground that opponent plays. This is a tactical move that may be used if a Coach wants to make sure one of the opposing team's forwards with high M has a defender with high M on him, or something similar. It is not meant to minimize a player's impact on the game - i.e. to "tag" a player out of the game

In practical terms, a coach names one of his players to tag a player of the other team. If they are not already lined up against each other, his player swaps positions to ensure they are. Tagging can only be used for midfielders and defenders. Midfielders will not "tag" to a defending position and defenders will not "tag" to a midfield position. No-one will "tag" into a forward position. If two teams use "tags" in a way that will counteract each other, neither tag is used.

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Injuries and Suspension

After every game, there is a chance that each player will either pull up injured or be sent before the tribunal.


Sometimes players will get injured. It's a rough sport and it can't be helped. The game engine "injures" players on a scale roughly equal to what you might see in a real game (so more little injuries, less big ones).

All players have a Health level shown as a percentage on their team page. Injuries reduce this amount on the basis of three factors: randomness (light injury? Near death experience?), the player�s invisible "Injury Proneness Attribute", and the "Injury Prevention" rating of the team's Physio.

A player can play while injured, but his attributes are reduced by applying the percentage of his Health, e.g. a player with Health of 85% and PG of 10, then he will play as if his PG is 8.5. Health is recovered at a rate dependent upon a player's Stamina attribute and the Recovery rating of the team's Physio, but that rate is slashed if the player takes to the field while injured.


Sometimes players lose control and punch, kick, bite, or otherwise get up close and personal with an opponent or umpire. Sometimes the umpires notice this and report the player to the AFEL Tribunal. Players found to be guilty of anything illegal are suspended from playing for a certain number of games. This can be anywhere from one to three games.

Many times umpires are found to be a little eager in their reporting and the player is let off without suspension. This can also be achieved through the retention of a particularly skilled lawyer. A player who is suspended cannot play for his team. A team who sends that player onto the ground will have him replaced by the league with a player of its choice.

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Players and staff cost money. A lot of them say they�re not playing for the money, but a lot of them say they enjoy training too. Luckily the AFEL is rolling in money from merchandising and advertising sales. The league allocates each team a sum of money at the start of the year to pay their players and staff in full. This sum is determined each year by the powers-that-be and is different for each division. This is an allocation. THERE IS NO SALARY CAP.

Crystal: $3.2 million
Matt: $3.1 million

Money left over from the allocation is spent on paying for bands to attend the Crystal Grand Final half time show. Teams that spend the least money are given front row tickets. Usually because they aren't playing in the game.

Bank Accounts

Each team also has a bank account that accrues money. This money comes from ticket sales and prize money. Teams attract fans based on their history of success and they crowd into the stadia on weekends to see their teams. About 80% of attendances come from the home team and 20% from the visiting team. This ratio changes if the popularity of the teams is mismatched. Teams are paid at the end of each season based on their total attendance. They get $3 per fan minus $100,000. So a team with 200,000 fans walking through the turnstiles would get $500,000 added to their bank. Teams do not get income from finals games. The league takes it all.

The money from this bank account can be spent on hiring Staff and improving the stadium. Also, up to 25% can be used on player salaries.

This money does not go away unless you spend it. So you can save it in a very clever tactical plan to take over the league.

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Squad Management


Players and staff are paid according to the contract they sign with the team. A contract consists of a dollar amount per season for a number of seasons. When a player enters the last season of his contract, he will tell the team what his new expectations are. His contract may then be extended at his new pay level or he will play out his contract at his old pay and then move to the Free Agent list. The standard expectation for the length of a contract is two seasons. If a team wants the player/staff for a different period of time they must add money to the salary requests according to the following table. Staffers are renewed or dropped when their contract hits '0'. A staffer whose contract is not renewed becomes a free agent. Teams may have any number of players (at least 18) – there is no minimum number required on the roster. Teams must have exactly one scout, one physio, three trainers and may have one psych.

1 Season: +$7,000

3 Seasons: +$5,000

4 Seasons: +$9,000

5 Seasons: +$12,000 (Maximum contract length is: 6 for contract extension, or 5 for a contract for Youth Players or Draftees)

Players and staff may become surplus to requirements before their contract runs out. Teams may buy out these contracts using the money in their bank accounts. To do so, the team must pay for the first year in full plus half of the remaining years. For example if a Trainer is on a $100,000 contract for one year, he may be bought out for $100,000 cash. If he has three years remaining he would cost $200,000 to release. That's $100,000 for the first year and $50,000 per year for the other two. This is a very costly method of fixing your past mistakes.

Free Agents

Free agents are players/staff without a contract. These people are sometimes highly sought after stars and sometimes sad cases trying to extend their sorry careers. Free agents can only be signed before the start of the season during the first “trading season”. They go to the highest bidder in a period known to some as “crazy season” and to some as “this is bloody stupid season”.  Free Agents must be signed to at least 2 year contracts unless their age is 6 or more at the time of signing. Mandatory non-standard contract amounts still apply.


Trading is allowed and encouraged between teams. Once players are paid for at the start of the season, they are commodities to trade. THERE IS NO SALARY CAP. Trading is only allowed at specific times. Before the season begins, the commissioner will open “trading season” with the traditional ringing of the bull. Trading is then allowed until a specified time right before Round 1. The mid-season trading window then opens after Round 7 and closes before Round 13.

Trades must be posted on the trade forum by both coaches and then submitted by email to the commissioner with a link to the forum post. Posts on the trade forum should be straight to the point - save the poetry for the banter forum. Any trade emailed after Thursday noon eastern American time will be held until after the following round.

Youth Players

Each team has a youth squad that they hope will produce the next Eric Klump, or at least someone to fill a back pocket for a season or two. The squad consists of four players who spend a season with the team's trainers improving every week with the hope of securing a contract at the end of it. They may play in senior squad games, but generally aren't good enough.


Each team nominates one captain, one vice captain, and one deputy vice captain. The highest ranked captain on the field acts as captain that match. The captain influences the entire team with his Leadership. He increases their level of play if his Leadership deserves it. A certain level of Leadership is expected in Crystal while slightly lower would be acceptable in Matt. If the captain's Leadership is below this level for some reason or the captain doesn't play, the team will be negatively affected. The further below the the level, the worse off the team will be.

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Between Seasons


Before the start of each season a draft of young players is held. Each team gets three (3) picks in this draft in which they attempt to pick up the league's next star. The order of the draft is determined approximately by the reverse order of the finishing ladders (after promotion/relegation) from the previous season. Approximately, because the bottom three teams in Matt Division have their order randomly chosen to nullify those strong urges to "accidentally" lose games as the end of the season approaches. Also to nullify those urges from Crystal Division teams to poach the obvious first draft pick.

Players on the draft list have approximate salary requests. These salary estimations come from your scout and they may skyrocket depending on where the player is actually drafted. The number one draft pick will (quite rightly) think he is hot shit and will expect more money from you. Players drafted must be signed to at least two year contracts or be released from the squad.


At the end of each season, all players are put through the magic aging machine. An off-season of boozing and trips to Bali puts the older players into less than peak condition, while the naive younger players spend most of their off-season as they do the normal season - going to the gym and drinking lots of energy drinks. Thus your team list will look a little different. Younger players will typically improve in their attributes, while older players will typically see decreases. There is no magic age at which this incline/decline changes and there is no guarantee that one of your younger players isn't actually joining the older players in their debauchery or that your older players aren't trying to keep the magic going a little longer.

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Scouts and Trainers have ratings in all the same visible attributes as players, except for Leadership and Age. Physios have two skills - Injury Prevention & Recovery. They age each season and their skills go up and down accordingly. They also retire when the time is right for them (an invisible attribute). Staff may be traded, as long as teams maintain exactly one Scout, one Physio, and three Trainers. Each team may also hire exactly one Psych if they choose.


Each team hires the services of a scout. This man's job all year is to scout the youth games going on around the world, sometimes stealing players from other more popular sports with tall tales of the joys of the life of an Australian footballer. Scouts have different specialties and thus each one of them could easily spend an entire evening arguing the merits of a single player. If they were real people.

At the end of the season your scout provides a unique report on the crop of draftees selected by the AFEL. During the season he will also prepare reports on the potential ability of the players on four different teams.

When asking your scout for a scout report (as directed by the commissioner) use this spreadsheet.


Each team hires a physiotherapist to help with the healing of their injured players. The physio also reduces the chance of injury for his players. These improvements are not miracles - simply a little extra help.


Each team must hire three trainers. These trainers take on the task of improving the skills of the players in the team. Depending on their skill level the trainers help the players get closer to their potential. Younger players generally improve more quickly because they are generally closer to their potential - not because they are inherently more deserving. The trainers work with players one on one, so each player in the squad is assigned to a specific trainer. Most squads are too big to allow for everyone to have these special training sessions, so some poor sods miss out. Each trainer can handle up to nine players and they collectively train the youth squad.

When training, players can ask for their Trainer to concentrate on a specific skill. That may be PG, GK, M, D, or S. The improvement from training is doubled in that skill.

Training is submitted via the AFEL website, using the online training editor on the League Page.


Clubs wishing to participate in the football department spending arms war may choose to hire a Sports Psychologist. This staff member will train the players in on field leadership. In addition, players who the club has identified as being in poor form (showing as “-” or worse) will be sent to the Psychologist for special attention, resulting in a slight positive modifier in their future form variations. The benefit gained increases as the form worsens.

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The League

The Divisions

The league is broken up into two divisions and conducts a promotion/relegation system. Crystal is the top division. Matt sits below that in second.

The Finals

Crystal and Matt Schedules

Round 1 (1st Tuesday)
Qualifying Final 1: 1 v 4
Elimination Final 1: 5 v 8
Elimination Final 2: 6 v 7
Qualifying Final 2: 2 v 3

Round 2 (1st Saturday)
Elimination Final 3: Loser of Qualifying Final 1 v Winner of Elimination Final 1
Elimination Final 4: Loser of Qualifying Final 2 v Winner of Elimination Final 2

Round 3 (2nd Tuesday)
Semi Final 1: Winner of Qualifying Final 1 v Winner of Elimination Final 4
Semi Final 2: Winner of Qualifying Final 2 v Winner of Elimination Final 3

Round 4 (2nd Saturday)
Grand Final: Winner of Semi Final 1 v Winner of Semi Final 2 (neutral oval)

Matt Division Grand Finalists are promoted. Crystal Ninth and Tenth places are relegated.

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The Comps

The Keg Cup Competition

At the beginning of the season the AFEL Keg Cup is held in which the winning team wins (the right to buy) a keg of beer of their choice as well as $50,000 AFEL cash for spending in the following season. Teams are randomly lined up in matches in the first round. The subsequent rounds match up teams in ladder order. There are five rounds (two games per week) after which a champion is crowned. Most likely that will be the last undefeated team – if not, a playoff will be run between the two undefeated teams. Every team wins money for their finishing position in the Keg Cup. 1st place wins $50,000 with $2,000 less to each lower team. So 2nd gets $48,000, 10th gets $32,000 etc. In addition, the top team from each division gets an extra $2,000.

Tipping Competition

The AFEL Tipping Competition is conducted each season. Tips are entered each round with the best 10 of 18 results scored. Every team wins money for their finishing position in the Comp. 1st place wins $50,000 with $2,000 less to each lower team – some of the bottom teams will not get anything. So 2nd gets $48,000, 10th gets $32,000 etc. (Dead heat rule applies to tied scores, in that case the tied individuals will take home the same prize money). If a club fails to submit any tips for the entire season, no cash is won.

Ladder Competitions

The AFEL Ladder Prediction Competition is also conducted each season. It is actually two competitions, one predicting the final Crystal Ladder and one for the Matt Ladder. An entry for each division is submitted prior to round one and the Comp is final after round 18. Prizes are awarded for each of the ladders. Every team wins money for their finishing position in the Comps. 1st place wins $50,000 with $2,000 less to each lower team – some of the bottom teams will not get anything. So 2nd gets $48,000, 10th gets $32,000 etc. (Dead heat rule applies to tied scores, in that case the tied individuals will take home the same prize money). If a club fails to submit entries, no cash is won.

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Help Articles

By clicking on the following pdf links you can download helpful articles written by experienced AFEL managers.

The Rose Method – Putting together a winning lineup by Kevin Rose.

Advice For New Coaches – Like it says on the box by Stu Potter.

AFEL Draft Guide – The ins and outs of the draft by Stephen Pearson

The Message Board – Etiquette advice from preeminent poster, John Porter

Building a Team – Secrets from one of our most successful owners, Ant Cheyne