851 Baseball uses pitching and batting statistics in tandem to simulate the game of baseball on a well-crafted gameboard that depicts a baseball field laid out in a grid pattern. The game comes with 10 fictional teams, each consisting of 20 fictional players (13 position players and 7 pitchers). Each position player is rated for batting average and power versus both left-handed and right-handed pitchers, plus speed, arm strength, and fielding ability. Each pitcher is rated for opponents' batting average, along with strikeouts and walks against both left-handed and right-handed batters.
The outcome of an at bat is determined by rolling dice and consulting the pitching card. If the pitching card indicates that the batter made contact (fly ball, line drive, or ground ball), the batting card is then checked against the result of another dice roll to determine where and how far the ball is hit.
The batted ball is plotted on the gameboard with the built-in batting stick. Defensive players, who were positioned on the playing field grid, attempt to make a play on the batted ball. Depending upon their initial positioning, their speed, their fielding ability, and in some cases their arm strength, the result may be a base hit, an out, or an error.
The appeal of 851 Baseball is that it depicts the movement of the ball, defensive players, and baserunners as each play unfolds. For example, a line drive might be caught by an outfielder or it might find the gap and roll to the wall. Baserunners advance according to their speed and can be instructed to try to take an extra base.
Multiple dice rolls can be required to fully resolve the outcome of an at bat, but play moves relatively quickly and the visual element sets this game apart from most other baseball boardgames.
The game comes with gameboard and batting stick, 5 dice (4 six-sided and 1 twenty-sided), color-coded playing pieces, rule book, 10 batting cards, 10 pitching cards, a pad of scoresheets, all attractively packaged in a game box.