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Subject: A Review of History-Making History Maker Baseball rss

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Brien Martin
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DeKalb
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History Maker Baseball (HMB), the latest offering from PLAAY.com and Keith Avallone, is aptly named.

For HMB has made history by doing what no other baseball game (commercially-produced) has ever done -- take the "skill scores" that one might find in any computer-based baseball game and converted them into words ... words that, combined with the dice and charts, create "player profiles" designed to replicate (rather fairly) that player's statistical totals for the season.

Let's start with the look and feel of the game. I have found that the look and feel of the components is that "first impression" that either stokes the fire toward learning more, or dampens the initial open-the-box enthusiasm. To be sure, I've played great-looking games that were awful, and some plain-jane games that were awesome.

The components of HMB are the usual standard for Keith's recent games; he's upped the ante by going to more color, more glossy charts and the spiral-bound game/rule book is pretty nice.

My only "reservation" about the booklet is that one will flip pages quite a bit during the course of a game and a season. The page-flipping is not a "problem"; I just worry that the pages will wear a bit and might eventually come free from the booklet. This is easily fixed by either creating your own charts (that you can laminate) or making loose copies of the booklet for heavy use.

The player cards are larger than those used in other PLAAY.com games, but they are still much smaller than cards from Replay, APBA, or SOM (as comparables). They're nicely done, and I have enjoyed poring over them as I have discovered the game and played some.

I'll give the components a strong B+/A- ... leaning A- because I have a built-in bias for Keith's games

Next, we'll look at the rules. Not *what* they are, but how accessible they are to players right out of the box. The rules to HMB are *very* accessible by players right out of the box. Some have commented that, even when they have had some difficulty with a rule, merely applying that which they know from other rules has generally been correct. That's that mark of a good game engine ... one where most (if not all) processes are handled in the exact same manner. It makes the game accessible fairly quickly.

The best rule in the game is the dreaded "Decider Die" ... why "dreaded"? Because the joy you feel when you have a SEMI-HR KING hit a HR KING result can easily turn to dismay when the Decider Die says, "No, you're not a HR KING *this* time" ... I've already started referring to the die as the "Attribute Nazi" (as in "No attribute for YOU!"). It's a simple solution to the "problem" of having players with multiple full and half-attributes (necessary to build a proper card).

I give the rules a solid A ... you should need no more than two readings completely through to "get it" more than enough to be able to start playing a game without having the rule book open at all times.

Next comes the game engine. You can have the best rules, coolest-looking components, and slickest box ... but if the game engine is awful, or produces completely unrealistic (in terms of "can that really happen") results ... you'll have the prettiest door stop ever.

HMB's game engine is pretty innovative, and a definite off-shoot of Second Season's "is so-and-so *this*?" system. Instead of a straight binary system (you are or you aren't), HMB is a tri-binary (for lack of a better term) system ... where you are or aren't at two levels, reaching a third and final level if you haven't been "stopped" previously in the chain.

For example, you start looking at the pitcher ... is he or isn't he a particular skill? If he is, you "stop" right there and apply the result. If he's not, look at the batter, who is checked for one or more *other* skills ... does he have them or not? If he does, you "stop" right there and apply the result. If he's not, you go to the third "default" result.

That, combined with the decider-die results (where you discover if, for *that* at-bat, the skill is there ... or not) gives the game a myriad of results beyond the 168 possible results hard-coded into the charts themselves.

The Drama Charts, the Intangibles Charts, the Umpire Charts, and Unusual Results Charts all combine to add elements to the game that the 168 results can't give you in the game proper. A simple and elegant solution to: how can I get even the least-likely results into the game without driving the players crazy?

I've already had a SEMI HR KING pass his Decider Die roll three times ... three long bombs ... that could easily have been long, loud fly outs. Good stuff.

I give the game engine an A+ for its innovation and thought to get to the game's key results in a manner that is completely dependent on the player skills.

Now, how well does the game portray the game as you know it?

HMB does a very good job at capturing the essence of baseball. It has it all ... from the scrubeenie who bleeds out a single on the decider die, to the questionable umpire who blows a call at first, causing the winning run to score. From a timely homer from your slugger, to that fresh pitcher you just brought in, fanning their big gun to snuff out a rally.

That having been said, I find that, so far, double plays are a bit low ... but I've only played four games ... I'll keep an eye on those to see if they start to even out a bit. I've also noted (as have most of you, I would guess) that 1949 seems to be causing some bit of angst ... but again, I think we need more data and playing to start saying anything more definite than "we'll look at that data as it comes in".

Realism? I'll give it a solid B+/A- at this point ... leaning B+ just because I'm not yet "okay" with the double plays ... yet.

Overall, this game is an absolute winner! Keith has done a great job on HMB, and I love the Baseball America set so far. We've started a BA league (USBL) and will share our data and observations with Keith as we go along.

OVERALL GRADE: A

If you're a baseball fan, this is probably a must-buy for you. If you're not a big fan of the sport, HMB is a should-buy ... it could actually have you enjoying the real-life sport.

Brien
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Aaron Silverman
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Halfway between Castro and Mickey Mouse
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Brien Martin wrote:
tri-binary (for lack of a better term)


Trinary?
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
United States
Anderson
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Great review of a great game Brien. Good job!
 
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Aaron Bedard
United States
Somerville
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Another fantastic review for a game that I am getting so excited to have show up at my door this month.

It'll be my first baseball boardgame so I don't have anything else to compare it to, but from what you've written here it sounds like I made the right choice on which, sunflower-seed covered, dugout to spend my summer in.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Anderson
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RawDealDemo wrote:
Another fantastic review for a game that I am getting so excited to have show up at my door this month.

It'll be my first baseball boardgame so I don't have anything else to compare it to, but from what you've written here it sounds like I made the right choice on which, sunflower-seed covered, dugout to spend my summer in.


You have.
 
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Eric T
United States
Villa Park
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Great review Brien, I'm on the fence about this game, only because I'm not that big of a baseball fan but I do like running teams ala OOTP cpu type games. Looking for more boardgames for this , but my question is do you have to play each game for a team, like 162 or whatever is now? Most people could not sim a whole season this way and what about the rest of the teams in a league?

Does Keith have a formula for simming a whole baseball season?

I do have and love RWBR and FTTM by Keith, any info would be helpful.

Thank you again.
 
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Nathan James
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How many attributes are there for the players to have?
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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Anderson
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There are well over a dozen counting pitchers but there are also two degrees of each quality.
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Brien Martin
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Eric,

No, you can play as little or as much of a regular schedule as you want. You can draft teams from the player card sets and create a whole alternate universe (I'm doing a draft league of just six teams and thirty regular season games).

Brien
 
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Travis Jansen
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After leaving SOM, I've been searching high and low for a simple game with accurate results that let's me rate my own Cards. Seems like I've found it.

Ay updates on the double play situation?
 
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Titan Lord
United States
California
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I just played my first game Reds vs Red Sox... Red Sox won 5-0... Reds bats were cold cold cold...Twice the Reds missed a Homer, beaten by the semi quality... I had 3 DPs in this game, so no issue there.

Fun game...plan to make my own players and teams...
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