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Pine Tar Baseball: 1884 Edition» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Pine Tar Baseball 1960 and Oldtimers rss

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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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A solid game package - and packed with amazing TLC!



I have a confession to make. I'm a bit of a baseball junkie. Not the type that watches on the television. Oh no, I like my baseball with a snap of the wrist and roll of the dice. I'm even quite pleased to deal with my baseball addiction in the realm of electrons. Be it Strat-O-Matic, Dave Koch Baseball, Out of the Park, REPLAY, History Maker Baseball, Downey Baseball, PayOff Pitch, there is room for all of them in my baseball world. Perhaps it is understandable as kid, I would listen to hours of whatever my transistor radio could acquire off the airwaves. Usually I would be listening to it while,,,playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball. That visualization of listening to the great announcers then made it easy for at least me to morph into playing and SEEING all the action of the baseball game with the roll of a die. Now as a much older man, it's no less so, fueled in part by a wife who likes baseball and likes the fact I'm immersed in these small baseball universes I create. So now...we try PINE Tar Baseball (PTB).


COMPONENTS
The overall packaging is nice but the internal packing was amazing. All parts were nicely wrapped up in bubblewrap to protect the old-timer cards and card sheets from being damaged. That sort of care will catch my attention every time. Simply outstanding. The cards are a nice set mounted on a thick cardboard stock. All teams are colorful and the print is clean, clear and crisp. You get a nice sturdy and colorful rulebook, a playing field and a series of markers and large tokens. The old timers set we purchased had lovely old time baseball poses on the back of the cards, rendered just right. The game charts are on a very colorful and sturdy piece of cardstock as well. In terms of visual appeal, customer care and overall first impression PTB gets 2 thumbs up.


RULES
The rules are actually twenty pages long. But lord they seem interminable and it's because they either needed a really good editor (where is my Anne of Edit) here? - or they can't see the process to execute due to simply being too close to the game engine. It's a common problem but for a sports game that needs to be intuitive at some level and quickly engage the player, it's sheer hemlock. It's even harder when it's your baby and it's a small operation but you need to embrace what I call the Red Team concept of Rules writing - what's happens when the other side reads it? Red teaming is the concept of viewing anything from an adversary or competitor's perspective -or a customer's. The goal of most red teams is to enhance the process or product. These rules are badly in need of this. The thing about the rules are two fold. One - I love the colorful charts though I'm not a fan FC R3A as it sounds too military. After playing a number of games it got to the point I knew it meant Fielders Choice Runner on third advances but like with wargames - new terms that are not general usage terms of art are off-putting. As a small aside, why not give us an index so we can easily turn to each section. Anytime something is made gamer friendly, the happier we are with the overall product.


1 of 2 pages of Charts on good cardstock - use the optional rules as they greatly enhance the overall feel of the game feeling like baseball.


GAME PLAY
Play is pretty simple - you roll two ten-sided dice, one red and one white and read the result of the batters card. There is no pitchers card to impact game play here. Within the roll there are certain numbers if they come up send you off somewhere else to see what happens. I personally found that a bit frustrating as I was trying to recall the numbers that set off game "alarms". I know and get that different systems will require somewhat of a learning curve, but to ensnare the gamer, you need to have them understand and like your different vision, which require an effective communications platform.

A good board sports game somehow needs to create not just the inning to inning game play but those moments of high drama. In Strat-O-Matic it's rolling a 3-4 on Yaz's 1967 card for the auto HR, or an 11 or 66 in APBA for possible big results, or getting the right words on a History Maker Baseball Card...but here all I did was roll. And roll. And roll, consulting the batters card.
Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Dwight Gooden, Pedro, Don Drysdale - all great strikeout pitchers right? The Pine Tar Baseball Game I'm playing and reviewing? They might as well be some scrub as that aspect of their game matters not one bit... Now if you dig into the Optional rules, there is a rule that addresses this, but it's perhaps a bit too generic for my tastes. Maybe the reason for this is when the designer started this, he was first focused on older teams and an older era of baseball. But the rules for this still feel to stop gappish simply for my tastes.


Now technically pitching matters as there is room for interaction with the letter rating which gets consulted on intervals of 5 from 0 to 50. But the special charts results? Mighty thin pickings. Think of a supermarket in a disaster movie - ain't nothing left on the shelves. That about how I saw the sum total of the value of pitching in the game. Almost every other game as some determinant that subscribes to the theory that pitching is half the game or so but not here. In fact the pitchers card has a rating for their personal batting and again, their letter grade. Now the letter ratings are comprised of home and away ratings and within that are two different possibilities - for the first 3 times the pitcher has faced the entire batting order and then after.

I'm still not thrilled with PTB - in my first game I didn't see right off how the pitcher mattered. And that is a problem isn't it? Yeah yeah yeah - they matter a smidgen of sorts but it doesn't feel like it's balanced. Like the Monty Python skit where John Cleese said the accused witch turned him into a newt but it got better, well that sums up PTB for me. The running system didn't quite work for me and fielding seemed a bit skewed from using Start-O-Matic ratings as a guage and historical knowledge. But game play is generally smooth and most of my games were resolved in 15 minutes.



CONCLUSIONS
Marriage isn't for everybody, or at least being married to certain individuals makes it seem so. That about sums up my relationship with PTB. The concept is not really much different in spirit than any of the other games out there, but the inner workings just left me at best ambivalent. Instead of feeling soaring joy, or even that grunt of satisfaction when a particular play or result happens, PTB simply gave me the feeling I was going through the motions, though that soften with more plays. Like in a marriage, you know when it's right for you - and when it's not. So I'm torn - do I simply dump this one or do I try yet more of it to see if there is some magic elixir I am missing with the game? Pine Tar Baseball is just one of those games where mileage will vary with your individual tastes.

The Pirates mob Bob Friend after pitching a complete game win that brought the World Series home to Da Burg - after being down 3-0 the Pirates rallied. and swept the Tigers in reverse order.

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fightcitymayor
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"This is a really weird game, and you’ll find that most people will not want to play this."
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M1Tanker wrote:
Be it Strat-O-Matic, Dave Koch Baseball, Out of the Park, REPLAY, History Maker Baseball, Downey Baseball, PayOff Pitch, there is room for all of them in my baseball world.
I saw this Legends Of Baseball game on Kickstarter but passed. Part of me is pleased that people pop up & create new card-&-dice baseball games, but the other part of me wonders what improvements can truly be made at this point in such a crowded marketplace. I end up asking myself: Do I really need yet another 1964 season baseball set, with the same players recreating the same predictable pennant race, with the same attributes?

It doesn't keep me from staring at them though!
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David Hailey
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I agree that there is always room for a new baseball game. I play History Maker Baseball, Strat-O-Matic Baseball, Replay Baseball, Ballpark Baseball, Dynasty League Baseball, and Out ot the Park Baseball on the computer. I feel that each game has it's merits and am always interested in exploring a new take on tabletop baseball. This past year I tried Payoff Pitch, Fall Classic, Feel the Pulse and gave another look to Statis-Pro. I researched Pine Tar Baseball and also judged it lacking the depth the reviewer points to here. I still haven't found the baseball game that scratches every itch. When I can't make up my mind which game/project to play, I roll a d6 using the first six games listed.
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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Indeed - I have an Army buddy who is hard and fast on trying to get me to look at Statis-Pro.
Smitty
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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David:

What did surprise me was after a while how open I became to other games other than SOM.

Smitty
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Bill Koff
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I got the Legends of Baseball Kickstarter version (same system as PTB) as it seemed to be one of the only tabletop baseball sims where you could match up the great players from different eras in one self-contained game. Also it was fairly inexpensive, with pretty good quality components.

Alas, as with you Smitty it just didn't grab me. You're right, pitcher ratings aren't detailed at all. Also, with the LOB set, all the players are really really good at everything (they're all-time all-stars, after all), so there's not that much delineation between them. I think part of the problem is this game is designed for quick play, so the level of detail and narrative that draws us baseball nuts to the game, just isn't there.

So where does that leave us? Unfortunately, Roll Saga Baseball, which looked so promising, turns out to have been stillborn. Clutch Baseball looks like fun, but it's really expensive if you buy the whole set at once (and I'm not into blindly buying packs of cards to see if I might get the ones I need instead of winding up with duplicates). I think I might just spend $4.99 to get MLB Manager 2017, the iPad version of the Out of the Park PC game.
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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Bill:

Roll saga just never grabbed me - imagine PTB did but Roll Saga - eww no. Same for Clutch Baseball as it seemed like Roll saga lacking in the fun and ease of play. I never went after either - nor will I. I'd dread having to review them, where at least with PTB I sprang with my own $$$ to review it.
Now I need to finish that review on Nine Navies War and start researching and writing an article on Tannenberg and finish up one on Caporetto.

Smitty
 
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fightcitymayor
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spindoc wrote:
I got the Legends of Baseball Kickstarter version (same system as PTB) as it seemed to be one of the only tabletop baseball sims where you could match up the great players from different eras in one self-contained game.
May I suggest Statis Pro Baseball Advanced, specifically the All-Time Greats Set 1. It's 230 players from all eras. It's available direct from the designer (Derrick Beckner) or from the world's most popular online auction site (rhymes with pee-jay.) The printed-out set is only $20 while the pdf is a paltry $7.50 and comes with a pdf of the rules & charts. SPA is basically a "big boy" version of Statis Pro, same easy-to-use player charts, but split by handedness and using modern baseball research to make the endeavour a little more current. I think SPA also has a Yahoo group as well as a Delphi forum.

And if that's not enough all-time greats for you, there is a free download here on BGG for Sports Illustrated Baseball featuring all-time players.
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Robert "Smitty" Smith
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No, no please no....The UPS man just delivered another board game to be reviewed - lol.
Smitty

PS - I'll look it up then.
 
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David Hailey
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M1Tanker wrote:
What did surprise me was after a while how open I became to other games other than SOM.


What has surprised me is how I have come back to SOM and enjoy it for more than nostalgia. Their response to the market has led to a very good game and probably the best when looking for quick results.

My path began with SI Superstar Baseball, then SOM for many years before PtP/Dynasty League created a more dynamic narrative with range plays and deep flys. HMB renewed my interest in tabletop baseball with its unique approach. Ballpark Baseball is the most promising new find for me - great depth, a little pricey, and I'm still not to the point where the gameplay flows smoothly. StatisPro is a solid game, but I prefer rolling dice. Strangely, I now have the urge to play a game of StatisPro today.
 
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