Welcome to another edition of the Wednesday Blogs! This week, I share my thoughts on what makes a game a favorite and why it stays on my table after all these years...
There's a rush that comes with opening a new game, from tearing off the plastic to the smell of the box and bits and then punching out pieces or separating cards. It's in that moment of anticipation that you envision many hours of fun ahead and wonder if you've finally found the game that will stay on your table for years to come.
That moment for me came back in 2013 when I ordered History Maker Baseball. I had played a couple of other tabletop baseball games and while they were great in their own way, eventually they wound up back on my shelf. This game was different, quite literally, right out of the box.
First, where most baseball games depict the player cards with a grid of numbers, this game had colorful qualities listed on the cards. A player might be a "Slugger" or a "HR King" or perhaps a "Whiffer" and you can get an immediate idea what type of player he will be. Pitchers similarly had descriptors like "Ace" or "Star" or the dreaded "Struggler" that differentiated the wheat from the chaff.
The gameplay seemed almost too simple; roll three dice, read them in ascending order and then check qualities. Starting with the pitcher's column, you might be asked if he has the "Flash" quality, if so it's a strike out and you move on to the next batter. How could this work throughout a game much less over the course of a season? In short, it's poetry in dice rolling motion.
I've now played HMB over 1,000 times and every time I sit down to roll out a game I know that I might see something I've never seen before. I've had a 1-0 pitchers' duel that took me 10 minutes to play from start to finish. Then there's been slugfests that went into extra innings where teams were finally forced to put in that "Struggler" in because he's the only pitcher left!
And this is truly a game that shines over the course of a season project. There's pre-game roll that determines the team chemistry and additionally there might be a temporary change to a player card. Maybe an article in a local paper fires up a player to be more focused at the plate, so for today he loses his "Whiffer" quality. Maybe the pitching coach notices that your middle reliever had a hitch in his delivery and is not "Fresh" for tonight's game.
You begin to have a narrative develop over the course of the season. Your lights-out closer might suddenly lose his "Control" or maybe even be injured, forcing you to rework your bullpen on the fly until he recovers. Or that light-hitting utility infielder gets in the zone for a couple weeks and looks like a "Champion" at the plate. So you adjust your lineup to keep his "Hot" bat in the lineup and ride out his streak.
I could write volumes about all the wonderful stories I've witnessed while playing this game, both solo and head to head games. It's became a game that I will play anytime, anywhere and will recommend to anyone without reservations. And that, is what makes History Maker Baseball my all-time favorite.