Board Games

This past week we staged our second Strat-O-Matic Negro League All-Stars Series.  In the end, Cameron ( @CoolPapaC) took the series from me 3 games to 2. Once again it took us a full five games to settle the Series.  In case you missed it, you can catch up on how the Inaugural Negro League All Stars Series went.  We had a fantastic evening of great baseball excitement, great music, and enjoyed keeping everyone informed via Twitter as the Series progressed.

Our intention competing via this board game, is to get to know these great players who were playing in the Negro Leagues.  The folks at Strat-O-Matic have done an amazing job of making these games play out as realistically as anything played on a ball field, and we feel that the outcomes are consistent with what might have happened had these players played with these lineups back in the day.

We made the decision right from the start to draft entirely new teams each Series so that we get the broadest exposure to players.  Maybe when we have used the complete set of 103 cards in the set, we will choose up more permanent teams.  We end up drafting a full roster of nine position players and three pitchers.  If we decide to use a pinch hitter at any point in the series we go back into the player pile to pick up another hitter.

We played at the Basic level, but we intend to get to the Advanced and Super Advanced versions as we get comfortable with the formats. Moving up to those levels provides a more realistic ballgame, as it takes into account park conditions, defensive options, pitcher workloads and righty/lefty matchups.  As this stage however we are getting familiar with the basic elements of the games. It also helps us from a time standpoint, competing in a Best of Five Series might take us more than one sitting!

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This past Tuesday night we staged our first Strat-O-Matic Negro League All-Stars Series.  In the end, I took the series from Cameron 3 games to 2, but it was the entire experience that we are so excited about.  Our intention is to stage these Best of Five series numerous times throughout the year, with a big showdown in the post season.

Negro League Strat-O-Matic | Baseballisms.comFor whatever reason neither Cameron (@CoolPapaC) nor I had ever played Strat-O-Matic before Tuesday night.  We couldn’t decide if in our youths it was other sports, lack of patience, or our peers that kept us away from the game. It took an article from the great Joe Posnanski to get us thinking about what we had missed, and to spark an idea about playing and documenting these series.

The article talks about the painstaking work that the researchers at Strat-O-Matic went through in order to create the pitcher and hitter cards required to stage a ballgame.   There are 103 Negro League player cards developed for this game, and we decided immediately that this was the version that we wanted to play.

Our decision was based upon the fact that we had very little personal reference for many of the stars of the Negro Leagues.  We felt that this would be a great way to get to know them as players, and to expand our appreciation of our National Pastime as fans.  Of course, we are well aware of Josh Gibson, Buck O’Neill, Satchel Paige, etc. and of course Cameron is a big fan of Cool Papa Bell, but we felt that there was an important part of baseball history that we could explore by generating a rooting interest in these players.  Through the playing of Strat-O-Matic, we believe that we could get a good first hand understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of these players, as if we were seeing them play at our local ballpark. Through diligence in compiling the information about these players, and as I think Strat-O-Matic fans will attest, the simple yet complex dice and card interactions provides a high caliber recreation of a player’s capabilities.

We were often stunned as the act of playing would closely resemble the type of performance that was written about in the League player biographies.

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