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Subject: A triple into the gap rss

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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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High & Tight was designed by Hermann Luttmann and published by Victory Point Games in 2011. It is playable by two players in about 45 minutes.

What You Get

The standard large ziplock from VPG actually comes pretty loaded. There is a foldout game board, using lots of color and some amusing graphics (check the GMT advert on the outfield wall) but with a slightly photoshopped feel. There are two decks of cards. These have a lot of text, the titles of which use colloquial baseball terminology: if you are not a fan of the game, some of the references will be rather obtuse. The card coloration is sometimes not the easiest to differentiate, and they shuffle very poorly. There is a sheet of two-sided punch out game counters and another set of player counters. You get six teams with the game with the player’s photos on them but names cleverly disguised (Alex Hotrod, Chaz Hutley, Tom Lincum) and altered team names (like the Highlanders) and with backs of the small rectangular chits showing five stats related to the player performance. There is also a board to track the score and various other in-game information. The rulebook is pretty well laid out with decent examples when necessary, and includes ‘advanced’ rules for those wanting a bit more realism. It also comes with two cute micro dice. Overall, a very nice package for this kind of publishing. However, if you don’t know baseball, it probably will not be a rulebook and game you will easily pick up and play.

What You Do


High & Tight simulates a baseball game with inning-by-inning play. It works under the assumption that each player on the team can have an impact on the scoring, but once per game.

A number of strategy cards are drawn by each player each inning, from none to four, depending on the inning, and there are options to exchange some cards as well. You can choose between offense and defense cards. Each player chooses a starting pitcher, and then the home team chooses its fielding player and the visitors their hitter. You then determine two values: the ‘scoring rolls’ (how many times you will roll the dice in the inning to try and score runs), and the ‘scoring number’ (the die sum needed to score a run on 2d6). Each pitcher has a value for each, depending on their level of control of the ballgame and their ERA. These numbers are modified by a number of things: first, the batter vs. fielder. The ‘bat’ rating of the hitter is compared to the ‘field’ rating of the fielder, and the scoring number adjusted a number of steps based on the difference, either up or down. Then, each player may play a strategy card if they want.

The cards are color coded: brown for power, blue for on base percentage, green for speed, violet for clutch, and dark green for ‘any’. Each inning has a corresponding color: in the 1st and 7th, speed cards can be played; in the 5th and 6th power cards, for example. The cards will modify either or both the roll values, and often adds extra bonuses depending on the values of the corresponding stats for the players. For example, some players have high ‘speed’ but low ‘power’ ratings, so these will influence when you choose to commit the player.

After the two numbers are adjusted by the cards, there is one final possibility for modification. The home manager can decide to either try and scratch out one run, or go for a big inning. This is accomplished by adjusting either the number of rolls or the scoring number down 2 spaces and increase the opposite value one space.

Finally, it’s time to see if your strategies worked out. A number of 2d6 rolls are made equal to the final ‘scoring rolls’ value (it could be as low as one, to higher than 10 tries) with the target of the ‘scoring numbers’ (a scoring number of ‘7’ scores a run for every 7 rolled, a ‘2’ requires a snake-eyes, but a ‘10’ gives a run on a 4 or 7). One run is scored for each scoring number rolled, and recorded on the game board. Then, teams switch sides, the batting player taking the field, and vice versa. At the end of the inning, the batters are discarded, and two new players are chosen. Pitchers have a maximum effectiveness time before they tire and must be removed. The game continues for nine innings when a winner is finally determined. I skimmed over some bits, like the ‘rally cap’ cards and other such fine details, but the essence of the game is there.

The game has a number of optional; rules for more experienced baseball fans: home park effects, more detailed pitcher fatigue, good and bad ‘stuff’ for pitchers, and the like.

What I Think

I am a lifelong player of baseball stat-based simulation games. I started out on Cadaco and graduated to Statis Pro baseball, which I still think has the best pitcher control and fatigue system. Dabbled in Strat and APBA and more obscure games like Baseball Challenge. Was an original purchaser and lifelong fan of Pursue the Pennant and its evolution, Dynasty League baseball games. I have thousands of games under my belt. I also played season sim games like Pennant Race but they never really worked right for me. I never thought I would enjoy a more ‘broad sweep’ game that covered the play of a baseball game broken down by inning, rather than by batter or by game. But High and Tight really works.

There is a real feel for some of the intricacies of baseball. When to go for it, when to play it safe, how long to go with a starter, using the individual talents of players. The strategy cards are fun and filled with authentic baseball terms: an obviously knowledgeable fan designed the game. There is also a nice dice game in here where even those less well-versed in baseball can manipulate to increase your chances to score but ultimately you have to hurl those damn bones.

There may be a slight advantage to the visiting team which has the opportunity to determine the hitter each inning first, as well as some other little details, but it doesn’t bother me too much. The basic game fatigue not very realistic, but for a game here and there it is not a problem. The scores I’ve obtained so far have been realistic: 3-2, 6-5. I’ve had a couple extra inning nail biters, and we’ve really whooped it up a couple times as I rolled 6 times, unable to score a single ‘7’ to put the game away. It is too bad there are only a few teams available as one gets the itch to run a longer mini-season, but I’m sure those might become available in the future (KC Kings anyone? With Mika Moustache, J. Grabon, and Erik Hoser). There are a lot of modifiers each at-bat, so there is much sliding the two scoring markers up and down. The cards are very, very difficult to shuffle: I may need sleeves for them. And it will only play with two: no solo games because of the strategy cards, which make playing often a bit tougher.

In summary, this is quite a gem of a ballgame at this level of simulation and realism. It should be well-received by a fan learning the intricacies of the game of baseball, and teaching them a bit more about the stats of the game and the strategies behind those managerial decisions. The game will be a bit tough for players who know little about baseball, so I would suggest a more gradual entry for such potential players. But if you prefer a ‘grand sweep’ baseball sim on the level of inning-by-inning, this would be the best choice I know.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks so much, Michael, for a nicely written and fair review. I'm glad you picked up on what we were trying to accomplish with the game. More will be coming sometime this year - maybe including the Kansas City Kings! Hermann
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Matt Crawford
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Thanks for the thorough review and well-considered conclusions! Sounds like a very interesting design for a baseball game.

It seems a bit odd that the playing time is 45 minutes for an inning-by-inning game, since most batter-by-batter games can be played in probably 30-45 minutes on average. It sounds like there are quite a few rolls to be done each inning (1 to 10), which really isn't any less rolls than you would do with a batter-by-batter game, where there are about 4-5 batters per inning.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Hi Matt and thanks for the comments. I think you still end up with fewer total die rolls but more importantly, they are die rolls with less "friction" - meaning you roll them in groups and you only need to see the total to get the result. Other games like Strat, etc., you're rolling and looking up results on cards or charts and then maybe rolling again, sometimes with a different die. So the point is that High & Tight is not an "express" baseball game, it just generally takes a different and more direct route. I hope you'll give it a try. Thanks and good gaming!
Hermann
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David Kennedy
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I'd like it if this title was one of the early ones to shift to VPG's new in-house printing technology.
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HERMANN LUTTMANN
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Thanks David - I hope so too! Hermann
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