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Subject: Replay Baseball - The Tabletop Game of Choice rss

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Matt Crawford
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I have been playing Replay Baseball for a few years now. Tabletop sports games, also known as stats replay games, don't get much love here on the BGG. But I love them.

Replay Baseball is one of these stats replay games. That means that it is based on real-life statistics from a previous baseball season, and the players in the game are designed to replicate their real-life probabilities of getting a hit and so forth.

Each at-bat is resolved by rolling three dice, checking the batter's and pitcher's cards, and reading the result from the game charts. In this way, a game of baseball is played, and these games can make up whatever seasonal replay or fantasy season you can think of.

Tabletop baseball games have very dedicated followings. So I will say that Replay Baseball is my favorite tabletop baseball game, which means that I think it is the best by my personal definition of what is important, and if you disagree, then we will agree to amiably disagree.

On to the review part, you say! Okey-dokey. I like many things about the game, and I will point out some of the highlights.

Playing time and ease of play

It generally takes me about 20 minutes to play a game. I would say an average of 20 minutes if you include writing out the lineups and filling out the box score at the end of the game. A high-scoring game might take a few minutes more, and a pitcher's duel a few minutes less. Most chart results are memorized after a dozen games or so, so actually checking the chart to figure out what happened becomes more rare.

I find the game very easy to play. It flows very smoothly, and never feels like a chore. It is probably somewhere in the middle in terms of detail -- there are games out there that are much more detailed, and there are games that are much less too.

Components

The components are well done and very professional. The game chart is a nice tri-fold laminated deal which stands up on your table for easy reference. The player cards are professionally printed on good stock, or you can buy a somewhat cheaper team-sheet PDF version of the teams. I've bought both kinds, and both have their advantages, depending on what you want to do with the game.

Cool batter-pitcher interaction

One of the cool things about Replay Baseball is the way that each at-bat is resolved. After rolling the three dice, you use two of the dice (1st and 2nd dice) to read the result from a 6x6 grid on the batter's card. Then you use the 1st and 3rd dice to read a result from a similar 6x6 grid on the pitcher's card. The final result is found by adding those two numbers together and checking the game charts. This means that (without nit-picking) you get the feeling that both the batter and the pitcher are involved in every result.

Sweet platoon advantage system

For my money, Replay has the best, most realistic platoon advantage system I've seen. (For my money! See above about disagreeing.) Each batter has at least one square on his card that will be an out against a pitcher of the same side (RH vs. RH, or LH vs. LH), but a hit against a pitcher on the opposite side, a 1 in 36 chance. This is in fact very close to the average platoon advantage. Some hitters, who have larger than normal platoon differentials, will have two or three additional squares that work similarly.

I love this system because it avoids the problems that I got sick of when playing games with complete LH/RH splits. Because of small sample sizes, many players will get weird splits, or reverse platoon splits. I constantly had to decide between playing to win by taking advantage of these unrealistic splits, or playing like real-life. I hated agonizing over that constantly, and with Replay I don't have to think about that. I just play realistically and the game works realistically too.

Automated base-stealing system

Replay has an automated base-stealing system that is optional but integrates so well into the game. Some batting results have a special symbol next to them that indicate that the batter will attempt to steal the next open base if he gets on. It's quick, smooth, and provides for more realistic replay stats, as you are forced to let those cruddy basestealers attempt to swipe a bag every now and then.

Overall

This game is one of my 10s, in the sense that I will be playing it and enjoying it for a long time to come. I have completed a few different replays with it, from a September 1978 pennant race replay to a 1984 Los Angeles Dodgers full season replay. I highly recommend this game.

Comments on sports games in general

So like I said, sports games don't get much love here on BGG. I sort of understand why, because solitaire replay games are not intended to be strategy games like a Tigris & Euphrates is. But there is something so enjoyable to me about the mechanics of a well-designed sports game. I actually love the, well I can't call it repetitiveness, but something like that. And yet every game is different. It's a great way for me to relax, in a much different way than a strategy game.

Of course, I am a big fan of sports, so that obviously is a big factor. And I think that board game geeks on average are not as big on sports as the average male. It's too bad, because I will continue to say that I wish there was more of a market for well-designed sports replay games and sports-themed boardgames.

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Richard H. Berg
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South Carolina
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I have been playing "tabletop" baseball games for over 50 years, and i have, believe me, played them all. I even designed one (for DSPI; wasn't too hot). REPLAY is, for me, the best of the lot . . .

RHB
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Ron Pfeiffer
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I too have played replay type games for many years, including a couple of Computer Replays which I think I like best of all because you can own and play 1 team while the computer takes care of the rest of the schedule. Hey I started using my old Commodore 64! and LANCE HAFFNER GAMES!

I agree that Replay games get no love on the GEEK.

Not sure which game I like best. I think that all have some value as long as they are reasonably accurate. I like a game that allows you the ability to make trades or draft teams into a home based league. What better thrill can you get than coaching YOUR TEAM to your leagues WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP!
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Jim Allard
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Hi,

I've been playing tabletop sports games for almost 50 years - starting with APBA, Avalon Hill, 3M, Stratamatic, Replay, etc... I prefer football generally, and I have my beloved 62 Packers in APBA cards. I also am constantly trying new golf games and would really like to see a winner come along in that sport..

I'm not sure that I would agree that sports games get little attention on the Geek - I think it is more likely that most gamers are now playing multi-player games (Euro or otherwise) and sports games are, by nature, two-player. I know that is why I play sports games as infrequently as I do. It is also why I rarely play my war games these days. But I keep buying both in anticipation of a great life in retirement. ;-)

JimA
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Paul O'Connor
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I haven't played Replay in awhile, but several years ago I did a tournament with the 1970s teams ... the Baltimore Orioles ran the table on the American League side of the bracket, going 18-0. I stalled out in the second round of the National League side but will get back to it someday. It is the best of the baseball tabletop games (and I did play Strat and Statis-Pro for years). Once you get into the rhythm of play the game ticks right along.

In addition to the batter/pitcher interaction, I particularly liked the ballpark effects and (especially) the way fielding was handled. This was the only time I've been encouraged to maintain fielding stats during a baseball sim.

Nice review.
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Stven Carlberg
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Thanks for the review. I've been looking for a good baseball game for a while -- not 50 years, like some of these posters, but a while! This one sounds like it splits the difference nicely between APBA and Dynasty League.

What kind of costs are involved in getting charts for each season? And what is the availability of the game? Where do I go to get it?

P.S. Another C.S. Forester fan here.

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Chris Flynn
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I own APBA, Strat-o-Matic, Dynasty League and Statis Pro. Of those I find APBA to be the most fun for a quick down and dirty basic game session. I like DLBB for its more reliable stats model and chrome which adds tons of atmosphere, but Strat-o and its seamless link to its PC version is my favorite. One of these days I may have to try Replay.
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Mark Gage
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ssmooth wrote:
Thanks for the review. I've been looking for a good baseball game for a while -- not 50 years, like some of these posters, but a while! This one sounds like it splits the difference nicely between APBA and Dynasty League.

What kind of costs are involved in getting charts for each season? And what is the availability of the game? Where do I go to get it?

P.S. Another C.S. Forester fan here.



Here you go
http://www.replaybb.com/index.html
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Paul O'Connor
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ssmooth wrote:
P.S. Another C.S. Forester fan here.


Then clear for action and get some Replay Baseball on deck.
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Matt Crawford
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Quote:
What kind of costs are involved in getting charts for each season? And what is the availability of the game? Where do I go to get it?


The other poster gave you the link. The game is actively printed and totally available. I'll just add that the base game set is $24, and comes with 4 sample teams so you can just try it out, if you like. Of course, if you're like me, you will want to set up a replay, so you'll need a season set. Those run from $20 for a PDF team sheet style, to $55 for the most recent season's full card set.
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Central Scrutinizer
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I'm a big fan of sports games in general, though I've joined the PC revolution for baseball game play.

My only (friendly, respectful) disagreement with your highlights for Replay v. other systems is:

L/R Splits - sure, if you're only playing one game, then complete splits lead to highly unusual lineup creation and dynamics, but in a full season, where part-time players can't be overused, complete splits give more realistic pictures - since some players, in real life, DO have reverse platoon splits and other statistcal oddities.

Overall though, that's a quibble. Baseball is a wonderful game for simulation, and many of the games do a great job at varying detail levels.

42

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M Hellyer
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You hit a home run with your write-up. I haven't played Replay Baseball yet but will have to give it a try. I was fairly happy with Avalon-Hill's Statis Pro Baseball -- it had some good features like pitchers tiring.

My school grades might have been better but I used to try to sit in the back of the classrooms then in my desk I'd play a dice baseball game I invented.

But, I'm still looking for a good 2-person baseball game. All-American Baseball comes close but is 50 years old and doesn't have the sophistication or the real players.

Again, thanks for the great review -- I am looking forward to playing Replay Baseball.

(PS. I'm another CS Forester fan!)
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howl hollow howl
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I have never played sports sims before, but this review intrigued me. However, I couldn't find the following in the review:

* Is this solo play only? It looks that way.

* Are there any decisions to be made? It looks like you are just rolling dice any looking up results in charts.

I want to know how it compares with something like Pizza Box Football, which is still a light dicefest, but has a rock-paper-scissors element to it in the play calling.
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David Bohnenberger
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Thanks for a great review of one of my favorite games. I actually play this one two-player!

One of the things I love about Replay is the great "play by play" the chart book generates. For instance, there are several different "kinds" of home runs: "over the fence", "deep into the seats", "upper deck", etc. Of course they're all functionally the same, but this sort of thing adds a lot of flavor to the game with no added complexity.

I do have a couple of quibbles with the system, and maybe someone can correct my ignorance if I'm wrong:

1) The pitcher never seems to field the ball

2) While you point out the excellent and nearly invisible method used for adjusting results when a batter is facing a lefty or righty, there seems to be no corresponding results on the pitchers' cards. There are some split results on the chart, but these are generic. Since the pitchers' cards are much simpler, I think I understand why this is.

Other than that, I find the level of realism very high with high playability and I always enjoy the game.
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Paul O'Connor
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Dave wrote:
I have never played sports sims before, but this review intrigued me. However, I couldn't find the following in the review:

* Is this solo play only? It looks that way.

* Are there any decisions to be made? It looks like you are just rolling dice any looking up results in charts.

I want to know how it compares with something like Pizza Box Football, which is still a light dicefest, but has a rock-paper-scissors element to it in the play calling.


Your control of the game is similar to that of a baseball manager -- you set the lineups, call for steals and sacrifice bunts, yank your pitcher when he tires, etc. I think there are fielding adjustments you can make, too, but I haven't played for awhile and can remember for sure.

The game works very well as a solo experience, but can just as easily be played head-to-head, in which case you are making managerial calls only for your own team. I think two players could actually play faster than one, in that they could split up the dice rolling/chart reading/stat keeping tasks between them.

It is not a game where you are calling specific pitches, deciding when to swing the bat, etc. Resolution is generally batter-by-batter.
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John Foley
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Quote:
I actually play this one two-player!


David, perhaps you can teach this to me at GMT East 2008!
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Ted Kostek
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Dave wrote:
I have never played sports sims before, but this review intrigued me. However, I couldn't find the following in the review:

* Is this solo play only? It looks that way.

* Are there any decisions to be made? It looks like you are just rolling dice any looking up results in charts.

I want to know how it compares with something like Pizza Box Football, which is still a light dicefest, but has a rock-paper-scissors element to it in the play calling.


My local game group ran a mini baseball league using Strat-o-matic. Unfortunately, I dropped out due to time consrains.

This game sounds like Strat-o-matic in the sense that any given game is over 80% rolling dice and looking up results on tables. Still, however, that's more fun than it might sound. The pleasure comes from watching the story develop.

Anyway, playing a season is where the real interest lies for a baseball sim like this. The season rules include things like limits on the # of innings a player can play. You can optionally include a draft process. The decisions then become interesting. Do you put your best lefty up against the Yankees to try to pull out the win? Or do you give up that game for lost and use that pitcher in other games?
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David Bohnenberger
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Quote:
David, perhaps you can teach this to me at GMT East 2008!


I would be glad to. This is on Andy Lewis's list of "approved" non-GMT games, for sure. I'm surprised you weren't forced into a game or two last year!
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Matt Crawford
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DougBeebe wrote:
I'm a big fan of sports games in general, though I've joined the PC revolution for baseball game play.

My only (friendly, respectful) disagreement with your highlights for Replay v. other systems is:

L/R Splits - sure, if you're only playing one game, then complete splits lead to highly unusual lineup creation and dynamics, but in a full season, where part-time players can't be overused, complete splits give more realistic pictures - since some players, in real life, DO have reverse platoon splits and other statistcal oddities.


It's funny, I played Diamond Mind Baseball for a long time (computer baseball simulation), then switched to the table top games. I finally realized that I spend way too much time on the computer already at work, so playing the table top game is much more enjoyable for me. Even though I have to keep my own stats and can't play as many games (no full league replays for me).

DMB is actually the one that killed it for me with the L/R splits. Every time I started a replay, I had to decide whether to manage realistically, and use the players exactly like they were used in real-life, or try to shake things up and set the lineups for each team to win as much as they could. And that's where I always ran into the problem with unrealistic splits.

I agree with you that if you only want to use all the players exactly as they were used in real-life, then strict splits can give you a realistic experience. For me, though, it wasn't a fun experience, and didn't make for realistic decisions.

But I disagree that any players actually have a reverse platoon split -- they might hit that way for a year, because of the small sample sizes, but the studies I've read have shown that no one has a real reverse platoon advantage. So I think Replay does a better job of representing the players' actual skills.

But like you said, it's a friendly disagreement and I'm glad there are different games out there that are designed differently!
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Matt Crawford
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Dweeb wrote:
I do have a couple of quibbles with the system, and maybe someone can correct my ignorance if I'm wrong:

1) The pitcher never seems to field the ball

2) While you point out the excellent and nearly invisible method used for adjusting results when a batter is facing a lefty or righty, there seems to be no corresponding results on the pitchers' cards. There are some split results on the chart, but these are generic. Since the pitchers' cards are much simpler, I think I understand why this is.


From what I've read on the forums, the fielding chances are distributed very closely to real-life, which would include the pitcher. There aren't a lot of plays to the pitcher, but I remember that in Column 1 and Column 2 there are a couple. And lots of bunts are fielded by the pitcher.

It's true that there are no split L/R results on the pitcher cards. There's a optional rule for relievers that I don't use. I think the simplicity is part of it, and also the fact that if you included a split result on the pitchers card, it would throw off the "one square average difference" on the hitters cards. That is, the average platoon difference wouldn't be one square on the hitter's cards any more.
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Matt Crawford
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Dave wrote:
I have never played sports sims before, but this review intrigued me. However, I couldn't find the following in the review:

* Is this solo play only? It looks that way.

* Are there any decisions to be made? It looks like you are just rolling dice any looking up results in charts.

I want to know how it compares with something like Pizza Box Football, which is still a light dicefest, but has a rock-paper-scissors element to it in the play calling.


The other poster described it well; the decisions you make are like a regular baseball manager, and you can play it very well with either one or two players. I know a lot of people play these kinds of games in head-to-head leagues, although that may have been more popular when I was in high school and we had seemingly endless time to devote to these things.

Personally, I've only played the game solo, however. And there, like the others said, the entertainment comes from watching the games and season develop, watching the pennant races or stats accumulate, and so on. Not to mention that playing the games themselves is fun too.

I think this is a big part of why these games aren't so popular around here. I think that most people who are into replay-type games like to play them solo (not everyone, of course). And that works for me, as a relaxing entertainment that doesn't involve the computer.
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M Hellyer
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On the pc, give me Old Time Baseball any time over Diamond Mind. Diamond Mind has a clunky and difficult interface that I found frustrating to use, plus with no graphics, why even bother putting it on computer. Old Time Baseball might not be as realistic, but the graphics are very good, and the announcers (Mel Allen and Curt Gowdy) add another fun dimension. I am still hoping some day to find a good two-person table top baseball boardgame where one person doesn't just sit idly watching the other roll dice or draw cards. All-American Baseball is excellent head-to-head and pitch-by-pitch between two players but doesn't have Lefty/Righty, Fielding, or real players so it's not fully dimensional.
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Steven Kimball
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Michael--maybe Pizza Box Baseball will scratch your itch? It's coming out in February and looks to be a contender! It might take a bit longer than Replay Baseball, but from the reviews it boasts a solid 2-player and the developers are working on a solitaire system as well.
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MikeR Ross
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Had to jump in here (about 5 years late it looks like!)

Platoon splits ARE addressed on the pitchers cards. You'll note: some pitchers indeed have a different set of result numbers for Left or Right handed hitters. In fact shaded blue or red to make a 'card' for L or R batters.

(Not ALL pitchers have this mind you, but from a sample of several teams I found one or two per team) These pitchers, I assume had a significant statistical performance difference vs L or R.

just got the game, playing out a 52 game season with 10 teams from the 60,s and 70.s just to check the statistical accuracy of the game. In about a month I managed to get absolutely addicted to this game.

Mike.
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M Hellyer
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Hi Mike R,
Thanks for your posting. I just want to be sure you're talking about "Replay Baseball" and not "Pizza Box Baseball" as both were referenced in the notes below. Thanks.
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