Here are three variants that I developed for Bottom of the Ninth. The three variants involve committing base-runners to advance a base, attempting to have runners advance an extra-base, and attempting a double/triple play. The three variants are consistent with each other. My goals were to modestly increase the number of decisions for both players and to kick up the push-your-luck aspects of the game (especially for the batting team), and thereby enhance the drama of “the bottom of the ninth”, all while smoothly and simply integrating the variants with the game’s base rules.
All of these variants have been play-tested - with the base game only - and are now my standard way to play the game.
I searched the forums for similar variants, and these may be variations of already posted variants. I hope to present here a consistent package of variants that enhance the fun of the game.
Please note that I play with the Basepath Variant in the rules (during the RUN! phase, players roll their dice simultaneously).
Base-runners Attempting to Advance Variant
When Contact is made, the Batting Player decides which base-runners will attempt to advance a base; any base-runners that are forced to advance must attempt to advance, but any unforced base-runners may or may not attempt to advance. Once a base-runner is set to attempt to advance a base, it is committed (there is no turning back).
The Batting Player indicates that a base-runner is attempting to advance by placing the corresponding meeple halfway to the next base.
The Batting Player indicates that a base-runner is not attempting to advance by leaving the corresponding meeple on its current base. The runner is holding.
Only runners attempting to advance (the meeples that are off base) can be gotten out this play, and the lead runner attempting to advance will be the first to get out.
Example: With runners on first and third, when Contact is made, the batting meeple must be placed half-way to first and the meeple that was on first must be placed half-way to second. The Batting Player may place the meeple that was on third half-way to home in an attempt to score, or they may leave the meeple on third base and hold the runner.
Proceed with the RUN! Phase (I use the Basepath Variant).
If the result is SAFE!, then all the runners that were attempting to advance do so, and those runners that were holding stay. (Proceed to Extra-Bases Variant, if possible)
If the result is OUT!, then the lead runner that was attempting to advance is out. (Proceed to Double/Triple Play Variant, if possible)
During the RUN! Phase, if the Batting Player is SAFE!, then the base-runners may try for extra-bases.
All base-runners are eligible to try for an extra-base, including runners that were previously holding. If the attempt for extra-bases fails, only the lead base-runner attempting to advance is OUT!; the other base-runners attempting to advance succeed.
1) Take the dice rolls that resulted in the Batting Player being SAFE! and subtract the Pitching Player’s value from the Batting Player’s value (any modifiers still apply); this is the number of Extra Rolls that the Batting Player will have to attempt extra-bases. (If Extra-Rolls equals 0, then the Batting Player can not attempt extra-bases.)
2) The Batting Player decides if they will attempt extra-bases, and if they will, positions the meeples following the Base-runners Attempting to Advance Variant. Remember, once a base-runner has committed to advance, there is no turning back.
3) The Batting Player has the number of Extra Rolls to roll their die and achieve a 5 or 6 (Speed modifiers included).
3a) If the Batting Player does not achieve a 5 or 6 after the extra rolls, then the lead runner is OUT!. All other base-runners attempting to advance are SAFE!.
3b) If the Batting Player achieves a 5 during the extra rolls, then the Pitching Player has one die roll to get a 6 and an OUT!; anything less than a 6 and the runners are SAFE!.
3c) If the Batting Player achieves a 6 during the extra rolls, then the runners are SAFE!.
4) The ball is now dead. Proceed to the Clean Up Phase.
Double/Triple Play Variant
During the RUN! Phase, if the Batting Player is OUT!, and if the the Pitching Player decides to first put out a forced base-runner (assuming there are other runners on base), then the Pitching Player may attempt to make another out. (I put the meeple that makes the first out on its side.)
1) The Pitching Player declares which base-runner they are attempting to put out.
2) The Pitching Player has one die roll.
2a) If the Pitching Player rolls a 5 or 6, then the Batting Player has one die roll to determine SAFE! or OUT! in the usual manner.
2ai) If OUT!, then there has been a double play! If the second out is an unforced runner, then this is a “tag-out” and the ball is now dead; proceed to the Clean Up Phase. If the second out is a forced runner, and there is another runner still alive, then repeat the procedure to attempt a Triple Play!
2aii) If SAFE!, then the remaining base-runners advance and the ball is now dead; proceed to the Clean Up Phase.
2b) If the Pitching Player rolls a 2, 3, or 4, then the remaining runners are SAFE! The ball is now dead; proceed to the Clean Up Phase.
2c) If the Pitching Player rolls a 1, then there was a wild throw - an ERROR! - and the base-runners successfully advance to their base. The Batting Player then has one final roll: for a 5 or 6, the base-runners advance one additional base. The ball is now dead; proceed to the Clean Up Phase.
(My apologies - I wish I could have formatted this better.)
I had a similar thought regarding double plays, but mine was slightly different. Let's say there is a runner on first. Contact is made so the run phase begins. What if the pitcher was just required to roll two outs before the batter rolled a safe? Or to make it a little more difficult, the lead out could be a 5 or 6, but the second (and possibly 3rd) out had to be a natural 6.