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World Series Baseball

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

My friend Cullen and I have recently started working on a baseball sim. The basic idea is that each player manages a professional baseball team: he buys players in a limited draft, trains them in key areas of play, and manages them through the World Series. The game centers around the pitcher / batter showdown, using a varying number of dice to simulate the various possible outcomes. Players of the game also have the opportunity to run specific plays by playing the appropriate card, thus modifying the roll of the dice in different ways.

It’s a strategy game: you prioritize hiring players with certain kinds of strengths, train them up to more closely meet your needs, switch them in and out throughout the series, and call whatever plays best fit your plans. Or at least that’s the thought. We’re having one heck of a time coming up with a dice-rolling mechanism that actually works in this context, and without that, we’re nowhere.

We’ve come up with a dice system that produces the various possible outcomes of a showdown reasonably well, but it’s rather inflexible and doesn’t allow for varying strengths of pitchers and batters. The original idea was to give a good pitcher 7 or 8 dice, for example, while giving an average pitcher 6. But this doesn’t work with the current system: 7 dice for the pitcher is too many (he dominates), while 5 is too few (he gets pounded). It’s a shame, too, because the system works so well in almost every other way.

There are undoubtedly other ways we can account for the talent of individual pitchers and batters, but I’m beginning to think we should run with the system we have to see if we can’t come up with a different kind of baseball game – a betting game, maybe, where players try to make as much money on the series as possible.

That’s one thing I’ve learned as a designer: if the original plan isn’t working, see what else you can do. Often it turns out pretty well. :-)

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  1. November 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Sports as a theme for board games has never really grabbed me. I don’t understand it really. I’d just much rather play the sport instead of pretending to play the sport. I feel the same about sports video games (though I’m obviously the minority there, since there is a plethora of them).

    I am probably not actually going to be able to settle a new island, delve into the world of high financial real estate, or engage in political intrigue and war, so simulating these things in board games is all well and good. But pretending to do something which would be way more enjoyable and easily accessible as sports doesn’t excite me.

    That’s just my view on the theme.

  2. November 20, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    In many ways I agree with you, but for some reason I’ve always been intrigued by baseball games. I just like the idea of runners getting on base, then having to advance them around to try to get them home.

    I think the real challenge with this game will be trying to bring the managerial perspective into it in a reasonable way.

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