History Maker Baseball

Inspired by the start of the new baseball season, I decided to set up and play some tabletop baseball, using the teams that competed in the 2015 World Series (Kansas and the New York Mets) in a best of five encounter, matching the actual World Series startups.

I used History Maker Baseball (HMB), an innovative game from Keith Avallone at PLAAY. Most baseball replay games convert player statistics into a numerical rating. In HMB, however, there are no numerical ratings, only characteristics. For example, a pitcher may be a STAR, or a STRUGGLER, and a batter may be a SLUGGER, or a WHIFFER. Each at bat starts with a 3d6 roll on the main game tables. This generates a result – a characteristic – to compare against the pitcher. If there is no match, there is a different result to compare against the batter. If there is still no match, there is a result in the final column.

There are two important points. First, some characteristics are “half” value, which means they only apply if the decider die (a custom d6 with half of the sides blank meaning “no,” and half of the sides with a circle meaning “yes”) says “yes.” This adds depth and variety. But more significant is the second point: many of the results send you off to various other tables that take account of a wide, wide range of factors and recreate key situations. For example, experience, team chemistry, umpire profile, infield, outfield, and plate drama, and so on. So, the flavor of the real game is very well delivered, and so far as I can tell, the game play gives believable outcomes. It means that it can take a little while to resolve a single at bat, but the compensation is the extra depth to the game.

The 2015 cards came with a very handy transactions summary. The team sets show the situation at the start of the 2015 season, and you can easily work out what the roster looked like mid or end season. This was especially helpful in putting together the right players for a World Series rematch.

The player cards come in perforated sheets. No matter how careful I was, the perforations were not perfect, and some cards came out with minor damage. Annoying, and not crucial. But the card quality is the weakest part of the package.

In play, because of the wide range of possible results, you need to be able to see all characteristics of all the players. That means it takes up more table space. Again, it’s more a minor nuisance, but it is a price well worth paying for the rich and realistic atmosphere.

You can get through a single game in thirty to forty minutes, approximately. I compile the statistics at the end, by hand, so you may be able to get through things faster if you use an Excel spreadsheet set up in advance. (Incidentally, I prefer to play these games as board and not computer games.)

So, how did it go? See here.

Kansas City Royals v New York Mets

These are the results of a mini series I played between the 2015 Mets and Royals using History Maker Baseball.

Game 1 – 27 October 2015

Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
New York Mets 2 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 1 7 13 0
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 3 6 1

A two run homer from Cespedes put the Mets in to a lead that they never looked like losing. Cespedes, with a 5 for 5, and 5 RBI performance kept putting nails into the Kansas’ coffin, and Harvey (7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run) and Clippard (2 innings. 4 hits, 2 runs) did more than enough to secure the win. 1-0 for the Mets.

Game 2 – 28 October 2015

New York lead the series 1-0

Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
New York Mets 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 6 0
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 0 3 0 2 0 5 7 0

New York’s Conforto solo home run in the third was eventually matched and exceeded after pitcher DeGrom gave up two walks in the fifth innings. This kept Kansas on a track they solidly converted to three runs. In the sixth, Granderson hit in leadoff, and scored, to threaten a New York fightback. That came to an end with Murphy and Cespedes grounding out (including into a double play). Cespedes’ 0 for 4 performance was in marked contrast to his first game one. A four hit seventh innings by Kansas had Gordon & Rios score the final runs, and the game really petered out after that. DeGrom (6 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs) Verrett (1 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs) and Goeddel (1 innings, no hits, no runs) pitched averagely. And while Cueto (8 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs) and Morales (1 innings, 1 hit, no runs) were marginally better, it was largely the Kansas performance in the field that kept them in the lead. 1-1 in the series.

Game 3 – 30 October 2015

Series tied at 1-1

Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 4 13 0
New York Mets 0 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 6 11 1

Flores was a star for New York (2 for 4, and 5 5 RBI) starting with a grand slam home run in the second innings. Wright and Flores drove in another couple of runs in the third. Moustakas (2 for 5, and 2 RBI) tried hard, but Kansas left too many men on, allowing Syndergaard (7 innings, 11 hits, 4 runs) and Goeddel (2 innings, 2 hits, no runs) to escape from trouble far too often. Ventura (3 innings, 9 hits, 6 runs) was pulled after all the damage had been done. Davis (3 innings, 1 hit, no runs) and Madson (2 innings, 1 hit no run) were awesome, but it was too late for Kansas. New York lead the series 2-1.

Game 4 – 31 October 2015

New York lead the series 2-1.

Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 1 5 9 0
New York Mets 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1

Young (8 innings, 5 hits, no runs, and 9 strikeouts) and Davis (1 innings, no hits, no runs) were the Kansas stars, though Zobrist (3 for 4) and Rios (2 for 3) made a solid batting contribution. The New York batting was almost non existent, and the pitching just not good enough: Matz (6 innings, 4 hits, 1 run), Verrett (2 innings, 4 hits, 3 runs), and Clippard (1 innings, 1 hit, 1 run). Ironically, Murphy’s error in the fifth saw his team come to no harm. The series is tied at 2-2.

Game 5 – 1 November 2015

Series tied at 2-2.

Teams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Kansas City Royals 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 4 11 1
New York Mets 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 10 0

Kansas began this deciding game with a dreadful two base error from Cain that helped give the Mets a 2-0 lead. But a fifth inning combination of hits from Escobar, Zobrist, and Pereze, put Kansas in the lead by 3-2. This went to 4-2 in the sixth ininning, with Perez driving in Hosmer on a fine double. Cespedes hit a solo home run in the seventh, to cut the lead to one. but Kansas held on, helped by an awesome pitching performance from Volquez (9 innings, 10 hits, 3 runs, and 8 strikeouts) in these closing innings. Harvey (5 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs) and Goeddel (4 innings, 4 hits, and 1 run) were not dominant enough. Kansas win the series 3-2.

History in the making?

Just arrived, thanks to super Post Office Warrior Susan:

hmb

In a nutshell, a tabletop baseball game with individual cards and ratings for the players. The action is driven by dice. But the players do not have dry numerical ratings. Instead they have qualities like “Home Run King” and “Sad Sack” and so on. There are lots of clever ideas here. I have only checked out the contents and read the rules and charts. I need to see how these all translate into game play.

There are times when I wish I hadn’t gone back to work…