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Subject: Important changes for 2011 rss

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Conrad Brunner

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Some significant changes in gameplay have come along this year, bringing new life and levels to the game. In addition to the base scores for Fastball, Changeup and Specialty, the batters and pitchers all have various special abilities that can impact the results.

There also are stadiums and mascots, both of which have global effects. Angels Stadium, for example, gives pitchers +3 to change-up and batters +3 to fastball. Mascots have two effects, a one-timer that is applied when the card is turned face-up during an at-bat, and a global one that lasts the rest of the game - usually one that allows players to draw additional cards.

Rosters (decks) are expanded to 30 cards -- one stadium, one mascot, three pitchers and 25 batters. The 28 batter and pitcher cards have star ratings on them, and you're supposed to build your 28-card player deck with 100 stars, which can be challenging.

One other change is that all hits are no longer home runs. Each batter has an individual hit level on his card. If Jason Bay gets a hit, for example, it's a single. If Albert Pujols connects, it's a home run. It's still a three-inning game with one pitcher per inning.

The individual batter and pitcher card effects really bring spice to the game. The strongest defensive ability, for example, is Wall Climber (B.J. Upton and Raul Ibanez are the only two players I've seen with this one so far) which turns a home run into an out.

Other abilities call for stolen bases, double plays, throwing out runners at home and canceling opponent abilities in addition to the more typical cards that can be discarded during an at-bat to pump up a batter or pitcher's number.

Most abilities are played from your hand, after the batter has been revealed.

To really appreciate this game, you have to think of it not as a baseball game but a card game based on baseball. I picked up a few packs just because they were cheap and I'm a game addict, built a couple of decks to play the game with a friend and we've really grown to like it. In fact, employees at the local game store watched us play and now they want in.

There's just something engaging about playing a neat little game using baseball cards and with the changes Topps made to the game this year, it's more engaging than ever.
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Winston Crutchfield
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Thanks for this rules update. The 2011 changes make a huge difference in game play, making it engaging for me without frustrating my 8-yr-old.
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